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Leading and Managing During Difficult Times

March 17, 2010

I think that we all agree that we are currently experiencing “difficult times”.  Difficult times require leaders and managers to do more than hunker down and hope for better times.  Difficult times challenge leaders and managers to do more with less, while building for the future.  One of the biggest challenges is taking care of your people during these times.  People are our greatest, yet most demanding resource.

Difficult times provide the opportunity for leaders and managers to stretch themselves professionally and personally.  People skills rank highest on everyone’s list of crucial skills, yet there is little incentive to improve these skills especially when times are tough.  Financial results rule.  Leaders and managers need to fight the urge to revert to coercive and forceful tactics.  Your people are hurting.  They are battling their own rising costs and lowered or stagnant wages.  They see their benefits being cut in the name of reducing costs.  What can leaders and managers do to stem the tide of fear and doubt?

First, they can acknowledge the issues faced by their organizations and teams.  By dealing with fear and doubt honestly, yet positively, they decrease the unknown for those that they lead.  Second, leaders and managers can set objective stretch goals that consider financial measures as well as internal processes, customer focus and learning and development goals.  Third, leaders and managers can start moving from emergency mode to building mode.  Yes, the economy is not doing well, but what are our organizations doing to move forward and grow?  Fourth, organizations can start rebuilding trust and loyalty within by committing to reducing cuts in staff and looking for ways to reward and develop their employees.

Finally, and in my mind, most importantly, organizations need to start developing the leadership and management potential that they already have.  Leaders are a result of nature and nurture.  Leadership skills are best learned and taught within the organization itself.   Instead of seeing employees as a line item, it is time to see them as a crucial component of the success of the organization.  Invest the time, money and energy necessary to develop professional, ethical and productive leaders and managers.  The financial future of our country and world depend on it.

Resources:

Recession Leadership: Be Real, Communicate, and Look Ahead

Why Good People Skills Matter in a Recession

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Erin permalink
    March 17, 2010 9:04 pm

    Margaret, I think you nailed it on this one. I think it’s my favorite posting to date, and most inspiring. I wish I had a resource like this posting when I was a leader struggling. Now I can reference this posting when I’m (hopefully) in the position to lead people in the future. Really well done.

    • March 17, 2010 9:21 pm

      Erin, Thanks for the feedback. It is a subject that I feel strongly about. I am reading about Lincoln as a leader right now and it is very inspiring. There will be related posts in the near future.

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