It’s tough out there. No doubt. The call for leadership has rarely been stronger. But leaders are like everyone else – we are affected by what’s happening to the economy like everyone else. We can be anxious, we can be overwhelmed, we can easily fall into pessimism.
It’s more important than ever for leaders to rise to the occasion and lead. We know that, and yet so many leaders in organizations are making one or more of the following critical mistakes:
1. We allow others to catch our dis-ease. Moods and attitudes are contagious, and when we are caught up in our own discomfort over what’s happening in the world today, we infect our teams.
2. We fall into paralysis. Sometimes, when lots of bad news comes our way, we simply roll up into a proverbial ball and play possum, hoping the storm will soon pass. Inaction is a mistake.
3. We fall into denial. This isn’t really happening, it’s not that bad, it will be over soon. Denial is a short-sighted “strategy” – look what happened to the auto industry when it denied that people were beginning to want more fuel-efficient cars.
4. We bear down, doing the same things we’ve done before, but with more energy and determination than ever. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is one definition of insanity. The times call for change, for new approaches, for new behavior.
5. We see ourselves (and/or our teams and departments) as victims. Much of what’s happening isn’t fair, and one short-sighted strategy to relieve our discomfort is to complain about how unfair it is. “My department got bigger budget cuts than yours.” “Mine is being asked to do more with fewer employees than yours.” Feels good (temporarily) to whine about it, but it’s not productive.
The times call for serious self-reflection and new commitments to leadership. If you’re down in the dumps, paralyzed, in denial, doing the same things you’ve always done (but with more determination) or see yourself as a victim, you can’t lead your team (much less yourself) through these challenging times.
You’ll only make it worse.