It’s important to look - and act - like a leader. (You know that.) But when faced with new, more difficult challenges, it’s often harder to show others that you’re up to the task. (You know this too. But you might not want admit it.)
Over the years, I’ve watched many leaders manage through challenging environments while leading their organizations to new successes. I’ve also seen that, like all good technology, many of their approaches can be used just as successfully by leaders in other situations.
If you find yourself in a place where your skills are being tested, try adding one - or more - of these time-tested and proven successful strategies to your management style repertoire:
1. Great leaders exhibit great calm - Truly powerful people have an air of calm about them. This helps those around them act more rationally and be more successful pushing the organization through difficult times. Exhibit calmness at all times. It will become your nature.
2. Recognize that there is always more time than it seems - Too many mistakes are made by those bosses who think that decisions need to be made quickly every time. It can be tough for a younger leader to buy, but it’s usually true that “this too will pass.” Don’t get stampeded into a bad decision.
3. Focus on the real world - Although I encourage leaders to use their own intuition or instincts, it’s true that many leaders are far too convinced that they know what’s right every time. They ignore reports and analyses, dismissing them as missing the mark in this particular situation. Accept this: nothing offsets the value of solid data and hard research.
4. Highly Charged = Highly Questionable - Bosses who shout, cry, whine, or are too focused on feelings are a turn-off to those above who can help them succeed. And no one below wants to spend time with a supervisor who can’t be level-headed in difficult times.
Show the each of these groups that you can take the bad news as well as the good. Everyone appreciates working with someone who is even-keeled.
5. Even a weak leader can look good with a great team - Surround yourself with people who know more than you. Give them full credit for their ideas, pay them well, and build loyalty. Everyone I’ve every worked with knows this is true, but for a lot of reasons (pressure from above, misplaced loyalty, their own ego problems) they don’t surround themselves with the best available talent. And then they fail.
Using these strategies you will become a better leader. If using them doesn’t feel “authentic” don’t let that trouble you. That feeling is probably because they’re not a natural part of your skills repertoire. This is normal. To deal with it, I recommend that you take a tip from Tiger Woods who uses coaches constantly: Listen to the coach. Test his tips. And practice them. Often and repeatedly.
At some point the new skill or approach will become a natural part of your style, in turn making you a more successful leader.