Private and public sector organizations around the world are having a tough time. Talk of double-dip recessions, rising costs, high unemployment as well as social and political unrest have left both industry and governments bewildered about what to do next.
Some economists believe we are in a period of prolonged economic contraction. The mantra of continual economic growth fuelled by unending consumer spending has been largely driven by cheap oil. The economics of supply and demand tell us that the days of cheap oil are gone. As proven and ready supplies begin to dry up, the insatiable thirst for oil in North America and, in recent years, China will mean that our economics in the West will be unalterably changed.
These are tough times and there is, more than ever, the need for clear, effective and principled leadership. International, national and a regional leadership. Political, organizational and self leadership.
Leaders are increasingly looked upon in these tough times to help organizations weather the relentless storms of change, recession and downsizing. From CEOs to front line managers, leaders are increasingly under pressure to keep their respective ships afloat.
There are three ways that a leader can support their team and keep them on track during these difficult times:
Offer Safe Harbour
Leaders are highly valued when they can offer empathy and a way through for staff. Leaders must hone their listening skills and encourage teams to work through their fears in a safe environment where people can openly and honestly explore their concerns and find solutions. Helping staff avoid becoming victims and to proactively move forward is huge role that leaders can play in this day and age.
Effective leaders help staff reframe their concerns and fears to gain perspective. This is very empowering because it enables staff to rise above the noise and clatter and focus on “first principles”: answering questions such as why are we here? who are we serving? what are we doing to advance our team and organization? Effective leaders help their teams rise above the distractions and stay focussed on serving their customers.
Tough times are not a time when leaders need to shirk their responsibilities or run away. Leaders cannot simply parrot the party line from above and consider that sufficient. Effective leaders must choose to not only show up but to lead up, across and down to support their teams, keep them focussed on priorities and first principles and people are supported in a fair and transparent manner.
In these tough times, more than ever, we need strong, courageous leadership! Leadership is the difference-maker that will fundamentally shape whether your organization fails or succeeds in these trying times.
What do you think of this perspective? Is leadership more important today than ever before? Is there a leadership deficit in the public and private sector right now? Are leaders too beholden to shareholders and their political masters to make the “right” decisions? Appreciate your comments.