“May you live in interesting times.”

For all leaders at all levels, these are interesting times.  The best will figure out how use this unsettled economic environment for their own benefit. They’ll grow and achieve greater success.  Others will fail, perhaps victims of the often-quoted Chinese curse above.

Whether or not the curse actually started in China doesn’t matter. But how you adapt and grow during transition periods – like the one we’re in currently – has everything to do with your personal success.  Or failure.

Although some indicators are looking up for the U.S., the global economy is not in the clear yet.  The economies of Iceland and Greece have failed. Debt watches are on Portugal, Spain, even Brazil and Italy.  Pundits can’t say with any certainty what’s next; but it’s very possible we’ll see other countries asking for financial bailouts.  Bottom Line – it’s too early to go back to “business as usual.”

With regard to your specific role, don’t presume that your past successful experience, by itself, will be enough to ensure that you or your organization moves forward.  Today – more than ever – you’d be wise to add more to your “leadership style repertoire.”  It’s important to realize that simply doing more of the same isn’t going to cut it.  Here are six of the best approaches I see being used by great leaders:

1. Ask, don’t tell. You’ve got talent around you.  Ask for new ideas, approaches.  If they can’t come up with any right away, challenge them to go out, find some and get back to you. Poor leaders figure they’re supposed to know it all.  That’s so last era.
2. Don’t take others’ deliverables. It can be tempting to offer to fix other people’s problems, especially if you know how to do it.  But, ultimately, this results in wearing out you out. Just as importantly, it keeps you from doing what you’re supposed to do – leading.
3. Do what’s right. That may not always be what’s in the policy manual. While manuals are a sound tool for dealing with routine and predictable outcomes, the best leaders make decisions by taking into account what’s best for all stakeholders in the short and long term.  Results are more important than policies.
4. Help, where required. Some people on your team may need help.  Wherever possible get it for them so they can learn to succeed without you shouldering the load.  Send them on courses, bring in a coach, hire outside speakers, buy them books.  Help them to “help themselves.”
5. Use corporate folklore. Every entity has a few success stories. Use these stories frequently and in varying situations to remind everyone that other people have figured out how to overcome the roadblocks and created new successes.  Use real people’s names and departments to prove the point: “If Sarah Jones did it – so can you.”
6. Become an evangelist. Set a few highly visible goals.  Many organizations create so many that failure is nearly assured.  Set just a few, talk about them all the time at every opportunity.  Tell everyone.  With the entire organization focused on hitting those goals, you are more likely to move mountains.

Here’s to your success!


Leadership Coach