How to Lead When Nothing is Going Right

By | November 24, 2014

Kool Derby

Leading is much easier when things are going well. If sales are skyrocketing, a good strategy is to stay out of the way. Don’t mess with success. The shareholders are happy, and the employees are enthusiastic about the performance bonuses. Times are good.

Of course, it’s naïve to expect that prosperity will continue forever. Before long, competition will take a portion of your market share, and the numbers will be less than rosy. In some cases, bad publicity will affect your company’s reputation. It’s even likely that you’ll experience bouts of high turnover within your workforce, making it difficult to sustain your productivity levels.

A strong leader is able to step up to the plate when times are difficult. The need for leadership is vitally important when your organization is struggling. It’s imperative to get back on track as quickly as possible.

Trust the System

A crisis provides an opportunity to test your strategic plan. For example, a basketball coach cannot abandon the game plan when the team shoots less than 20% from the field in the first half. The problem is likely to be execution, not ability.

An excellent leader makes it clear that you must trust the system. The marketing plan is fine, but perhaps you need to increase the social media effort in certain states, such as decreasing your commitment to print media. Prospects are interested in what you offer, but you must promote it in the most effective way.

Avoid Pointing Fingers

“Dang! Why is it that IT hasn’t created the portal for us to promote our products? That Chris’ group is the cause of our problem. They are incompetent!”

A top-notch leader does not blame others. This is a counter-productive strategy. You must find the solution to problems. In essence, you find the root cause and eliminate the underlying issues. You might learn that IT is short on resources, and it has little to do with their competency level. When the root cause is identified, you work with IT’s leadership team to find a workable solution.

Stay Engaged

A leader that leads from afar is ineffective. You must stay involved and practice managing by wandering around. You can expect performance to improve by playing an integral role in the improvement process.

An effective leader is good at asking questions, such as:

• “What did the customer think about the new feature on the scanner?”
• “When did you first notice that the employees are apathetic toward this project?”
• “Is your team prepared to work this weekend to resolve the problem?”
• “What can we do to provide you with the resources to get the work done?”

As Jim Collins states in his book Good to Great, be prepared to ask the brutal questions. Similarly, you should also welcome these tough questions.

The best organizations have the best leaders. Bottom line! You must have a plan to identify and develop talent within your organization. It’s imperative to train the leaders how to manage difficult situations. It’s relatively easy to guide the organization during prosperity, but leading during tough times requires someone possessing a higher level of competence.

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