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Leadership "Leader" is More Than a Title

This morning I had a call from a CEO who I admire very much. He wasn’t as upbeat as usual and for the first time in months I could feel some despair in his voice. The economy was finally taking a toll on his psyche.

Getting through these times and staying on top requires putting aside friends, family and even co-workers. As a leader, you might just feel plain alone—outside by yourself. Leaders work harder in tough times as the workload gets even heavier, which adds to the stress. It’s the kind of job that doesn't have much room for vacation.

To be a great leader you have to be able to balance it all. In order to balance it all, you have to understand yourself, where you’re going and what you want to achieve–in all parts of your life.

Why, you ask? Well, if you don’t understand yourself and your values, you will always be doing things for others, trying to please everyone, feeling pushed around and never knowing where you’re going next. If you don’t get it for yourself, how will you be able to get it for the people who depend on  you?

It’s important that you start with your core being. I’m not going off into therapy talk, but it’s your core values that will keep you connected and make it easier and allow you to focus on your business.  Asking yourself some questions about who you are and what you need will enhance your productivity and improve your relationships.

Some questions to ask to develop your leadership style:

  • What floats your boat? Do you thrive on change or do you thrive on challenges?  Are you motivated by recognition or is helping people what you’re into? Through these tough times you will have to build closer relationships with people that count.  You will need people you can count on who will move forward and who are not paralyzed with fear. This includes your family and friends.
  • After you interview yourself, interview the key people in your life. What is motivating them during these tough times? What are their expectations? Do they match yours?  Most likely not; that’s why you need those with the same values on your side.
  • Who are the “key advisors” in your life? This does not mean your whole management team. In times like these, not everyone is capable of being part of the solution. Some of your team members are struggling with their own sense of loss and panic. This is the time for levelheadedness, change and forward-moving habits. These are truly the times that "try men’s souls." And women's. 
  • Are you open to feedback? Maybe you’re used to operating in a vacuum, but I doubt it. Your salesmen need to be on top of it, finding out what advertising and promotions are working.
  • Do you know your staff? Identify your liabilities, who’s calm, loyal and sensitive. Stop the loose cannons.
  • Are you rewarding your producers?  Meet with key managers,  your best salespeople, the ones  who are  bringing  in business and closing sales, bookkeepers, customer service people, installers and truck drivers. Combine your residential team with your commercial group. Get everyone on the same page and tell them you want ideas that will work. Get their ideas on business and what are customers saying.
  • Control the rumor mill. Hold a meeting with your company; not pep rally but one where you can assure everyone that you are in charge and you will get through this together. Be honest. You don’t want them to learn details through the newspapers or your suppliers. Keep your meetings on schedule and stay on track.

Success in business requires training and discipline and hard work. But if you’re not frightened by these things, the opportunities are just as great today as they ever were. – David Rockefeller

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