Being a Leader in the Workplace

Unfortunately, the economic slowdown and the financial crisis facing our country have long reaching affects in the workplace. Employees are nervous and can be easily distracted. Obviously the pressure is on to keep morale up and employees working at their optimal level in spite of these challenging circumstances.

It’s a great time to test your leadership skills and truly mentor your employees to their most productive level. Not all bosses are leaders, but the very best supervisors embrace this role and mentor their employees to success.

Being a leader takes strong commitment, dedication and passion for others. It is not simply the belief or desire to be a leader, but the fact that others believe you to be that is important.

Below is an article from Forbes Magazine which gives useful tips and advice on how to lead during tough times. We hope you enjoy.

How to Lead in Tough Times
Abridged: Forbes Magazine, by Dennis Zeleny

Leading an organization through hard times is challenging by definition. It requires a deliberate focus and extra attention to a few critical areas that can make the difference between a quick rebound followed by sustained improvement in performance–or by a downward spiral that may become irreversible.

Here are five essentials for leadership through difficulty:

Communicate continually and honestly.

Authenticity and frequency in communications should be your constant goal.

Explain your company’s current circumstances and also how it got there. If there are things you as a leadership team could have done better, come clean and talk about them. Share what you plan to do about the fix you’re in. And, of course, solicit and respect the input of directors, peers and staff members. Also listen intently to employees’ descriptions and perceptions of the problem–and their own suggestions about what might be done.

One of the most important attributes that you as a leader must demonstrate is to see the situation as it is and not as you hope it to be–and to help the company’s constituencies do the same thing. Bringing this reality before the organization is critical so that everyone has a common understanding of the magnitude of the challenge and shares a vision for what must be done together to improve matters.

Hatch a plan based in reality.

Come up with a definitive strategy that addresses the crucial issues, whether they stem from the marketplace, from cost problems, management missteps, investment errors, the supply chain or the macroeconomy.

You may not be able to overcome these challenges completely, especially in the short term. But you and your employees can make things better by taking certain actions right away, which may include redoubling efforts in areas with customers, trimming costs, expanding markets, making internal sacrifices, stepping up your training, forging new alliances and even restructuring the company.
Don’t overlook the achievable by reaching for the possible. Don’t make promises you and the company can’t keep. Be a realist above all else. That includes providing a time frame–one that you might be able to beat, not one that you likely will fail to fulfill.

Hang on to your best talent.

Even though the U.S. economy has stalled out and employment pressures have eased somewhat, the long-term reality is that there is still an underlying dearth of executive and managerial talent. This overall shortage will reassert itself once the economy begins recovering.

Reach out to your most important or highest-potential employees and emphasize that you want to hold on to them. Unabashedly remind them of their importance to the organization for the long haul. Describe what their career paths might actually look like. Harness them as a crucial part of creating the solutions that will help put your company back on the right track.

Act decisively.

This means taking definitive actions that comprehensively address the company’s problems and that bid to turn the tide once and for all–rather than to settle for a series of “baby steps,” each of which isn’t quite ambitious enough to make a decisive difference.

And as captain of a ship in troubled waters, you’ve got to be visibly and steadily at the helm. But you also must be engaged in the struggle everywhere on the vessel.

Alter your perspective.

Moving around [within the organization] will help you gain valuable insights about what really might be afflicting the organization and likely will inspire ideas for improvement that otherwise never would have occurred to you. Just as important, your employees at every level will see and hear you being engaged in the struggle, and it will reassure them.

Add to your sole perspective as well. Adversity demands that you bring members of your team even more closely into your counsel, so they can help become integral to the solution.

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