Here in my house with no air conditioning on a day with 106 temperatures, I started thinking about how we deal with tough situations. While this particular instance is more of a nuisance than a ‘tough’ time, it still brings up the same thought process – how can we handle this? My husband and I have two children – 4 and 6 – which directs our concern to their well-being. Taking care of them is paramount. To equate this to general leadership, attention by the leader for the team as a whole and the team members individually is critical. I believe it is the ability of leaders to adapt to situations quickly and confidently that sets them apart. Last night it was our job to figure out the best spot to sleep so everyone could get some rest before we (hopefully) have the AC fixed today.
When a leader is presented with a problem, one character trait that stands out is his or her lack of panic. I’ve seen many instances when people are presented with a decision or a situation, and they are reduced to a quivering mess. Leaders may also feel fear, trepidation or uncertainty, but they seem to be able to control those feelings better. In fact, the team is expecting the leader to have that strength and calm demeanor. How do leaders do it?
It is not only in crisis situations that leaders have to display courage and confidence but also long-term changes. One tactic I’ve used during any major situation or event is to focus on the strengths of my team. By putting everyone to work in some fashion not only helps the progress of the team, but that person is able to be involved in his or her own useful way. By utilizing the whole team, everyone had an emotional and personal investment in the success of the problem. Also, by delegating work and responsibilities, I was able to keep a more strategic and overall view of what was going on. That also supported the team’s confidence in me since I seemed 1. To be in control and 2. To have all the answers. The truth was, I usually didn’t feel in control or have all the answers, but by keeping the total picture in view, I was able to make choices that were beneficial. Therein lies some success for leaders – the ability to stay out of the micro unless necessary and maintain the macro view.
CEO, The Professional Development Team