Leadership in Hard Times

The truth is that no one factor makes a company admirable. But if you were forced to pick the one that makes the most difference, you’d pick leadership.  – Warren Bennis, Organizational Consultant and Author

When times are good, leading a company or a team is exciting. Resources are plentiful, customers are satisfied, and opportunity is everywhere. However, when the economic conditions are challenging, this excitement and positive energy can weaken. People feel the pressures of work, and they may even fear for their jobs. Of course, you need leaders who can control costs and conserve cash. However you also need leaders who see opportunity – and who will strive to seize that opportunity – despite all the negativity. You need leaders who remain committed to their people. And you need leaders who can transfer their positive outlook to the people around them.

 

Create New Opportunities

  • Review your strategy – reconsider objectives
  • Lead by example
  • Add value – listen to the customers and add value without cost
  • Use market conditions to create a stronger business model for the future
  • Take the opportunity to trim costs
  • Implement a continuous improvement plan

Commit to Your People

  • Invest time in leadership skills training
  • Retain your best people
  • Be creative with recruitment and retention
  • Get rid of poor performers
  • Build a motivating workplace
    • Treat people fairly
    • Provide useful work for which people are recognized
    • Foster good relationships at work

Project Positive Energy

  • Expect great things from your people
  • Keep in touch with your people
  • Be visionary
  • Take care of yourself

By remaining positive, supporting your people, and looking for new business opportunities, you can help your company survive – and succeed – through the difficult times.

 

Six Thinking Hats

The best decisions come from changing the way that you think about problems, and examining them from different viewpoints.

Six Thinking Hats can be used in meetings or on your own. In meetings, it has the benefit of preventing any confrontation that may happen when people with different thinking styles discuss a problem.

Each “Thinking Hat” is a different style of thinking. These are explained below:

  • White Hat: with this thinking hat, you focus on the available data. Look at the information that you have, analyze past trends, and see what you can learn from it. Look for gaps in your knowledge, and try to either fill them or take account of them.
  • Red Hat: “wearing” the Red Hat, you look at problems using your intuition, gut reaction, and emotion. Also, think how others could react emotionally. Try to understand the responses of people who do not fully know your reasoning.
  • Black Hat: using Black Hat thinking, look at a decision’s potentially negative outcomes. Look at it cautiously and defensively. Try to see why it might not work. This is important because it highlights the weak points in a plan. It allows you to eliminate them, alter them, or prepare contingency plans to counter them.
  • Yellow Hat: this hat helps you to think positively. It is the optimistic viewpoint that helps you to see all the benefits of the decision and the value in it. Yellow Hat thinking helps you to keep going when everything looks gloomy and difficult.
  • Green Hat: the Green Hat represents creativity. This is where you develop creative solutions to a problem. It is a freewheeling way of thinking, in which there is little criticism of ideas.
  • Blue Hat: this hat represents process control. It’s the hat worn by people chairing meetings, for example. When facing difficulties because ideas are running dry, they may direct activity into Green Hat thinking. When contingency plans are needed, they will ask for Black Hat thinking.

De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats is a powerful technique for looking at decision making from different points of view.

It allows emotion and skepticism to be brought into what might normally be a purely rational process, and it opens up the opportunity for creativity within decision making.

Decisions made using the Six Thinking Hats technique can be sounder and more resilient than would otherwise be the case. It can also help you to avoid possible pitfalls before you have committed to a decision.

Helping Your People Find Purpose in Their Work

No matter what you do, your job exists for a reason. When you know that reason – and when you fully understand how your efforts make the world a better place for someone else – you have found your job’s purpose.

On an individual level, people who understand their job’s wider purpose are happier, more engaged, and more creative. And, from an organizational perspective, when employees see how their roles fit with the company’s goals, staff turnover goes down and productivity rises. People work harder, use their initiative, and make sensible decisions about their work. In turn, the company can operate more efficiently. Everyone, from the CEO to customers, feels the positive effects.

Take the following steps to help your people find purpose in their work:

  • Write a meaningful mission statement.
  • Link personal drivers with team or organizational goals.
  • Uncover strengths.
  • Build a positive work environment.
  • Use feedback to boost positivity.

As a leader, it’s important that you provide regular feedback, both from your own viewpoint and from that of customers or clients. This will help your people see that their work really does make a difference.

How to be organized

Do you waste much time during your day due to disorganization? Do you hope to get things done and keep putting them off? Stop thinking that you can succed amongst chaos – disorganization can end up costing a high price.

Disorganization can hold us back from getting the promotion we’ve always wanted. It can block our creativity, add stress to our lives, and prevent us from being as productive and effective as we could be.

Best Practices

  • Use a notebook
  • Get organized during the first 15 minutes of your day
  • Clear your desk/work space
  • Organize supplies or files you use often

 

Organizing Tools

  • Use calendars and planners – manual or digital
  • Use a spreadsheet to see what project are or are not on schedule

 

Organizing Tricks

  • Offer yourself a reward
  • Use one calendar
  • schedule small tasks
  • Choose organizing tools that appeal to you on a visual and emotional level

Become more organized and improve your productivity!

How approachable are you?

Being approachable is key to building relationships with your colleagues, and to creating a strong team in which trust, confidence and ideas can flow. When you’re approachable, team members do not sit on, or cover up, problems. This means that they are able to bring issues to you before they become full-blown crises, because they know you won’t react badly.

You can improve how approachable you are to help break down barriers, and to create an environment of trust. Develop your skills by…

  • increasing your visibility
  • using appropriate body language
  • working on your communication and listening skills

The 7 Cs of Communication

Communication is a part of our daily life. Enhance your credibility by using the 7 Cs checklist

  1. clear: be clear about your goal or message
  2. concise: stick to the point and keep it brief
  3. concrete: give details (not too many), facts and set the focus
  4. correct: it should fit the audience and it should be error free
  5. coherent: all points must connect and flow smoothly
  6. complete: give all your audience needs to be informed/take action
  7. courteous: be friendly, open and honest

Communication Patterns/Networks

Communication can be networked/patterned – that is communication can be examined and plotted from its source (s) to its destination (s). This networking/patterning is very useful in that the particular pattern chosen can be assessed as to its appropriateness; in addition the occasions and places of any breakdown or distortion in the communication can be isolated and remedial action taken. The more common networks / patterns are:

  • the chain – fixed direction
  • the circle – passes around and returns to the originator
  • the wheel – central giver or receiver
  • all channel – everyone communicates with everyone else.

Communication Problems

It is essential that any communication is understood in all its parts; that is – the receiver fully understands what the sender intended. Main causes of communication problems:

  1. wrong form – eg. when trying to persuade someone, instead of written communication, the spoken word could be more effective.
  2. words used – eg. excessive use of technical jargon. Do not assume that everyone understands all terms relating to your field (Accountants – capitalisation)
  3. Information overload – this could be caused by individuals not having enough time to digest all the information given, or it may be due to an unwillingness to accept too much detail.
  4. Information underload -if you have given insufficient information, the recepients might not understand all the elements of the intended communication
  5. Wrong timing- this is a particular problem when messages are sent at the end of the working day.
  6. To the wrong person – messages should be sent to those who need to receive them.
  7. past problems – trust between two or more parties in the communication process may have been broken by past failures – managerial attention should be directed to such cases.
  8. confusing non verbal signals – make sure your non-verbal signals are appropriate to the purpose of the communication.

Communication

It is estimated that managers spend 75 – 80% of their time on Communication. Furthermore it is claimed that breakdowns in communication account for a very large majority of problems encountered by management.