3 Actionable Insights on Improving Your Leadership Skills
In the midst of a narrative about the Great Resignation, unemployment numbers have dropped, leading to rethinking the recent employment phenomenon as the Great Reshuffle. The data indicates that people are not quitting their jobs without a transition plan, meaning they have been trading one job for another, often for a better opportunity. Like millions of workers out there, it is a good time to take a hard look at where you are in your career and your role as a leader. As you consider your own leadership, you are welcome to share your perspective in the comments.
Meet Transitional Challenges With Intention
Upheaval is probably the most apt word for the last few years. The workplace has faced the pandemic and global economic instability, putting leaders to the test. Successful leaders have followed a few critical guidelines. First, they have realized that crisis management requires a real plan, and they have been willing to pause to make one — using existing information and reasonable projections. Second, while standing in the bucket line might seem like a good idea, good leaders have understood that someone has to step back to keep track of the bigger picture to make sure the firefighting is effective. Finally, good leaders have remembered the airplane rule — put your own oxygen mask on first so that you can breathe while you help others. This approach models a healthy work environment and increases the ability of the entire team to meet difficulties head-on.
Consider this: What does it look like to lead from the front, the middle, or the rear in a crisis? Are you doing the work for your team or modeling the skills they need to step into their own roles?
In a Crisis, What is the Priority?
Acting in the moment of crisis involves a careful balance of immediate action with strategic focus. Survival isn’t a monolith. When getting through a difficult time, it is important to ask what survival looks like. Critical decisions need to be made with an eye on the outcome. Is it protecting profits, reputation, people, or something else? For example, many companies offered hazard pay in the early days of the pandemic, while others focused on a pivot in products or services to maintain sales. Recommitting to mission and brand can help guide the steps that an individual or an organization takes to get through. From moment to moment, decisions need to be made, but there are rarely binary choices, and a clear understanding of the ultimate interests being protected can be an important guide.
Quoting Victor Frankl, Brene Brown put forth a formula for the space between stimulus and response where we have “power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.” — S( )R.
Consider this: How do you want to fill the space between stimulus and response?
The ‘Why’ of Your Leadership
Leaders answer to their team, their organization, and themselves in different ways and for different reasons. It is important to pause and be in the moment to be clear on the purpose and mission guiding decisions. Are these aligned with the organization? Are the value of the team and each individual member a consideration? Often, being transparent about these considerations can be an element of affirmation, letting the various constituencies know that they matter.
Among the ‘why’ questions, leadership style shouldn’t be overlooked. Leaders often borrow from their own experience, emulating or rejecting what they’ve seen in the past. It can help to be intentional about these choices and make sure that they align with personal strengths and styles. For example, Tim Cook has held strong to the aesthetic and tech innovation that defined the Steve Jobs era of Apple, but he has put forward his own priorities and style to effectively lead the company forward.
Reflection question: How have you been influenced by other leaders and role models? What have you adopted or rejected and why?
Albert Einstein said, “If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.” McKinsey research found that 70 percent of people find purpose through work, and the number is higher for millennials. As you look to your purpose in your leadership, take the way you address crises into consideration and put them into a broader leadership context. The lessons learned in moments of urgency can be borrowed or set aside in less stressful times.
Jen Dalton is a personal brand specialist with entrepreneurship in her DNA. Her book, Listen: How To Embrace the Difficult Conversations Life Throws at You, is an insightful guide to navigating tough talks. She helps business owners and executives define how they show up as leaders, make the most of their strengths, and tend to their legacy, growth, and visibility. The author of two books, including The Intentional Entrepreneur, a frequent speaker, podcaster, and “Purpose Sherpa,” Jen is a critical resource for any person or company that wants to define their brand and differentiate themselves in authentic, credible, and relevant ways to the market. brandmirror.com