LEADERSHIP IN THE MOMENT-Effective Leadership in Challenging Times
You can't adjust the wind, but you can adjust the sails." -Elizabeth Edwards
For a moment, picture a captain potentially stuck in the middle of rough waters. She is focused on the wind and the challenges it is causing in her efforts to make forward progress towards her destination. She must change her focus from the wind to her own sails-that which she has control over, that which determines the “how”.
Now, picture a leader who has become overwhelmed and caught up in the day-to-day challenges and frustrations in her work life. Picture a leader who is missing deadlines, late to calls, has inconsistent results, is feeling stagnant in their development, is struggling with the change of re-structure, has a new team she hasn’t figured out how to lead, and /or is in a constant state of frustration. All of these things may represent the wind in her own personal state of ‘rough waters’.
As the captain her impact can be witnessed relative to how she guides the sails. As a leader, the adjustment of her ‘sails’ is simply the adjustment in how she is currently leading, how she guides her team, how she focuses on having a growth mindset vs. a fixed mindset.
As a leader we will face winds of varying strengths. We must choose to rise up and lead in spite of the turbulence. We can adjust our ‘sails’ in numerous ways.
Increase the amount of teaching/coaching with your team to improve their confidence and execution.
Adopt a more questions-based approach. Seek to understand the employee or leader’s mindset, frustrations and capabilities so that you can help them lead through what’s getting in their way. That will allow you to also lead and execute more effectively.
Seek additional employee and/or customer feedback to help you identify detours relative to your roadblocks.
Implement reverse accountability. Let your team know when they are to follow up with you on their progress and execution. Have them take the initiative.
Partner with a peer or mentor to help you see from an unbiased perspective with the blinders off. You will be able to proceed more objectively and engage in a leadership pivot that minimizes the impact of the ‘wind’ on your leadership.
Whether the captain or the leader, the goal is the same. The goal is success as we have defined it. As a leader, you must always be aware of the “what” and be willing and able to adjust the “how” with urgency and thoughtfulness so that the goal is achieved in the expected timeframe. You must be willing to lead in the moment. You must be willing to revise your plan as needed and take partners as applicable. You must be willing to lead at the same level of effectiveness in the storm as you do when waters are still.