Gary Winters

Coach  Workshop Facilitator Author

These are the BEST of times!

It’s tough out there!

Three recent headlines are all too common:

Unemployment at record high

One in ten Americans are in default, behind in their payments, or in foreclosure

Stock market slide worst in thirty years

For the first time in my career, I cannot think of a single client who is not dealing with enormous financial and other issues. Indeed, I face them myself. The public sector is rapidly running out of reserves, cutting services, scrambling to stay solvent. The private sector is no better off – the collapse of the real estate market, the banks and the auto industry has led to frightening consequences across the board – in retail, manufacturing, and even the service industry.

No one is immune.

I still insist that these are the best of times. Things are terrible, and they’ll probably get worse. People are frightened, discouraged, angry and depressed. It seems almost every day we move further into uncharted waters where we’ve never gone before.

But that’s not true – we’ve been here before. We were in uncharted waters in 1776, in 1860, in 1932. The circumstances may have been different, but we’ve here many times and we’ve always survived – in fact, we’ve always thrived. We did it before, and we’ll do it now.

What will get us through these dark days is not the perfect recovery plan, the ideal investment strategy, or the most comprehensive legislation. What will get us through is leadership – leadership on the world stage, and everyday leadership by folks like you and me.

And if you’re a leader, you can’t ask for a better climate to practice your craft. As Bernice Johnson Reagon says, “Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.”

Like everyone else, I cannot predict when brighter days will come, when financial stability will be restored, and when people will experience a deep sense of optimism, faith and stability in our systems. But that day will come.

In the meantime, I have three suggestions for all of us right now:

  1. Take time for self care. The airlines have it right when they tell you to put on your own oxygen mask first before helping someone else. You can’t lead well if you’re neglecting yourself. Pay special attention to your diet, exercise, and rest.
  2. Monitor your self talk. Become aware of any negative self talk patterns. No need to beat yourself up over them; they happen; they’re natural (especially in times like these!). When they happen, accept that you’ve slipped into negative self talk, and make a conscious positive affirmation. For me, right now, it’s as simple as reminding myself: “These are the best of times.” Remember, as one wag said, “These are the times we’ll look back upon someday as the good old days.”
  3. Take time for self-development. Become aware of what skills you want to improve, and find a way to improve them! Find a mentor, take a seminar, read a book, join a group of colleagues, whatever. Whatever your liabilities as a leader, they will magnify under these conditions. If there was ever a time to take your leadership practice to another level – this is it!

Someone once said, “Crises bring out the best in the best of us, and the worst in the worst of us.” Bring out your best, focus on the positive, and lead those around you to a better world. That’s your job, and you can do it.

After all, these are the best of times!

This article is available as a FREE pdf download. Visit my Free Stuff page to get a copy for yourself or co-workers.

“What ELSE Your Boss Never Told You” is the sequel to the very popular “What Your Boss Never Told You.” Packed inside are more tips, techniques, and insights about the challenging, but rewarding leadership position.

“What ELSE Your Boss Never Told You” is written in a conversational tone, as though you and the author were enjoying a cup of coffee and talking about the issues that emerge for new leaders. It stands alone, and/or could be read before or after the first volume, “What Your Boss Never Told You.” You can start with any chapter and read in any order you like.

if you search for a book on management, you’ll find a staggering 600,000+ books currently available. How can you narrow that down? “What Your Boss Never Told You” is the best place to start.

No textbook here – this book is short and sweet. It’s designed to help you “unpack” your new job and be effective from the first day with your new team. It contains twenty-one chapters filled with the wisdom Winters has gathered from real managers – effective, successful leaders in organizations much like yours.

Leaders make decisions every day – big and small. Most know that if they include others in the decision-making process, the quality of those decisions – and the commitment to them – will likely improve. That said, they also know it’s impractical, if not impossible, to include others in every decision they confront.

“To Do or Not To Do” tackles the question of when to make decisions on your own, and when to involve your team. It gives you a deceptively simple but proven method to determine, when you are facing a difficult decision, how to decide how to decide.

Far too many meetings are dreadful, mind-numbing, energy-draining, productivity-sapping, colossal wastes of time. As someone once said, “To kill time, a meeting is the perfect weapon.”

Here’s the deal: if you’re willing to learn and apply the techniques in “So, How Was Your Meeting?”, you’ll call fewer meetings, while vastly improving the ones you do lead. They’ll take less time, have more balanced participation, produce better decisions, and result in concrete action items for follow-up afterwards.

While there are thousands of books written for people about to retire, this may be the only book for people who manage soon-to-retire employees. Written in a casual, conversational style, “Managing the Soon To Retire Employee” will give you everything you need to know to move forward with confidence and grace.

You can be successful with Sooners. It won’t happen by chance, and it’s not a matter of pulling some management “trick” out of your hat. But you can learn how to do it, and you can apply what you’ve learned right away.

Managing friends or former peers can be awkward. When you become the boss, everything about these relationships can suddenly be uncomfortable. There’s a new set of ground rules to establish – as manager, you are going be accountable for the work performance of friends or former co-workers on the team, and they are going to have to adjust to the fact that they now report to you. Everyone involved can feel awkward and hesitant about the future. 

Have you been approached by management with an offer to promote you to supervision? Or, are you mulling over the possibility for the future? Find yourself not sure whether to accept the promotion?

If so, you’ve come to the right place. Help! They Want to Make ME a Supervisor will help you sort out a very big question: Should you accept the offer to become a supervisor? Once you’ve read this book, you’ll be confident that you’ve made the best decision for you and for your organization.