tumultuous times leadership

Leading Through Tumultuous Times

Whether changes are occurring inside the organization, or outside forces are creating conflict, the key is to accept and encourage change, rather than deflect it.

Change is hard, whether in personal or work lives. There’s no other way to phrase that. It’s just hard. Change management is a discipline, in and of itself, within the realm of human resources because the impact to morale, to say nothing of the bottom line, can be intense when changes aren’t introduced properly.

It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change. ~ Charles Darwin

People want to guard what they know, their little piece of the business pie, for fear that they will become expendable if they share it with others. Any changes in an organization often lead to people hoarding their pie slices even more closely than in normal times.

There is one key to effective change management within an organization and that’s the attitude of the leaders. If they don’t buy into the changes, or they’re discomfited by conflict, allowing their agitation to show to the rest of the team, they won’t be able to lead their team through whatever upheaval they need to manage.

All leaders deal with turbulence or conflict, within the organization but they must also deal with influences from without. In fact, a good leader will have a nose for what’s coming and be ahead of the game, where they can.

Strategic, long-term thinking, which is a major focus for most leaders, has to be done in the context of the real world: the current economic climate, the international market, the political realities of the day and so on.

So how can you lead through tumultuous times?

Lead by example

This one should be obvious to most any leader worth their salt but, perhaps in these days more than ever, it’s worth repeating. If you expect your team to work through change or conflict, you have to show them how.

That’s what leadership is, at its most distilled level. Your team is looking to you to show them the way and will be scrutinizing every move you make. Don’t make them guess at what to do next: communicate your vision and goals at every step!

Adapt with positivity

Look at change as an opportunity. The evolution of digital is a great example of how massive and very fast changes can be upsetting but if you alter your frame of mind and see them as opportunities for growth or to capture new business, you can ride the wave with more confidence and success. Example? Banks could have balked at changes in the digital sphere.

After all, there is far less call for tellers when everything can be done via a smartphone. Rather than lose their collective minds, they adapted and built apps and online resources. It’s what customers were asking for, so they embraced it.

Embrace differences of opinion

It’s important not only to acknowledge conflict or change but in fact to embrace it. Through conflict, new ideas are often born.

You’ll never find a better sparring partner than adversity. ~ Golda Meir

It doesn’t need to become toxic or overwhelming to be effective, but a little adversity can create a new vision. This goes back to the previous point about adapting: it’s often from places of difference that these new and interesting opportunities develop.

It’s a question of having an open mind, in order to be able to see the possibilities. Within a team, within an organization or even within an industry, or a country, adversity can lead to interesting changes so long as the leaders acknowledge it in the spirit of growth, as opposed to destruction.

Doing things the way they’ve always been done isn’t an open door to growth, but endless conflict isn’t either. A good leader will weave a path between these two extremes and inspire their team towards change. It’s not always an easy sell but worthwhile for the company, and leader, that can get it right.

It’s not always an easy sell but worthwhile for the company, and leader, that can get it right.

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Team Morale: 5 Things You Should Avoid Doing

Team Morale: 5 Things You Should Avoid Doing

It’s easier than you might think for a leader to upset the morale of a team.

If you are in any kind of management or leadership role, you know that managing different personalities and work styles can be difficult. Everyone has their little peccadillos that need to be handled appropriately.

But there are things that some leaders do that will almost universally upset the balance and morale of a team. It’s not that your team are delicate snowflakes that need to be handled with kid gloves, but they are people and they have feelings. If you abuse them or their trust, you will have a morale problem on your hands that will be very difficult to walk back from.

Team Morale: 5 Things You Should Avoid Doing

Here are some ways you can really freak out your team. The moral of this story? Don’t do them.

1. Be an Emotional Yo-Yo

One minute, you’re happy and laughing. The next minute, you’re slamming your office door and giving people the silent treatment. Are your mood swings even related to work? Or are you bringing your personal life to the office? Like the Hare and the Tortoise, slow and steady wins the race. Whatever is going on in your life or at the office, you need to display outward calm and control.

I knew a manager once whose employees would do a walk-by of her office to peek in at her and see how she was looking before daring to go in to ask for time off, or even a simple query about a project. That’s not leadership. The instability this causes among team members is a major hit to morale.

2. Be a Bully

Unless you’re wearing a crown, you don’t get to behave like a bully. And even if you are wearing a crown, it might not be a good idea. Intimidation and public humiliation are not management techniques. Using threats to get results will not propel a project forward in a positive way but will result in people feeling like their jobs are constantly on the line.

It even comes down to the way you communicate with your team. Good leaders ask for input and make requests. Bad leaders demand things of their team. The rules of the game apply to you too, and don’t think your team won’t notice if you think they don’t.

3. Make Poor HR Decisions

Even worse than making a poor HR decision is not making them at all. Your team needs you to make hard decisions, not pussyfoot around. Not dealing with team members who aren’t performing or have a negative attitude is a great way to bring down morale. It looks like you have no interest in the team or the project at best, or that you are blithely unaware of the problem, at worst.

Putting the right people in the right roles so that they can do their jobs effectively is not an exercise in politics or patronage. It’s an exercise in getting the job done. The right people are those who are qualified and motivated to do the work. If you’ve done your job correctly, by putting together a good team, you won’t need to micromanage them, treating them like kindergartners.

4. Stop Communicating With Your Team

This is on the same line of thought as ‘not being an emotional yo-yo’, above, but even more so, a good leader is straightforward with their team. Don’t make your staff guess at what you’re trying to tell them. Improperly communicating expectations will just result in the team not meeting them. Why? Because they can’t read your mind!

Feedback is essential for good team building. Not the dreaded once a year annual review, which no one appreciates, but on an ongoing basis. A good leader will offer positive or constructive feedback throughout the lifecycle of a project. Bad leaders will say nothing until they’re unhappy, equating feedback with criticism. Eventually, team members will avoid communicating with a leader who can’t or won’t share useful comments.

In the same vein, building a culture of blame and finger pointing instead of finding solutions to problems is a communication issue. If you are only looking for the holes and who created them, instead of finding ways to mend them, you’re not going to get far.

5. Take the Credit Where It’s NOT Due

By far, one of the easiest ways to upset a team is to blame them when things go wrong but take all the credit when things go right. Worse, if you refuse to admit when you don’t know something or when you are wrong about something. It comes down to being forthright and clear with your team, and having an understanding that without them, you have nothing. Appreciating their efforts is the single best way to boost their spirits and commitment.

Building a team and being a good leader are remarkable goals. They’re totally attainable as long as you keep both feet on the ground and work to achieve them with honesty and purpose.

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How Creating Margin Can Foster Effective Leadership

Effective leadership takes time, intentionality, purpose and strategy. It also means making the choice to create margin in your life. Just like a well-written, typed paper needs margin around the edges to be a source of communication and efficiency, leaders need margin in their lives to perform at peak levels. But leaders are often driven, which can result in schedules crammed with meetings, tasks and busyness.

Have you created margin in your life so that you have the reserve you need to accomplish the goals you have for yourself and your team? How do you create that margin? Here are 10 suggestions:

  1. Get enough sleep.  When leaders don’t get enough sleep, they are more likely to react badly and make poor decisions. Sleep equates to better decisions and a clearer vision for what is important. Without enough sleep, we waste the extra time we might have making up for poor decisions. Sleep is vital.
  2. Pay attention to your energy levels. Each of us have different energy levels throughout our days depending on our personalities, schedules and body composition. Knowing when you are more and less energetic can be a strategic factor in creating margin. If you find that you are more productive in the morning, it is smart to schedule your important tasks and meetings then. If you find your energy wanes every day around 2 pm, make a decision to plan an activity that will boost your energy or give you rest.
  3. Know your productive seasons.  In the same way that each of us have different energy levels during the day, we each have more productive seasons than others. Winter can be more difficult for some. The month of May is often a busy time with kids in school. Knowing your productivity highs and lows throughout the year will allow you to plan margin in your life effectively.
  4. Give yourself 15 extra minutes.  If you are not an early morning person, it is difficult to follow through with the decision to get up earlier each day in order to get more accomplished. But many people who don’t get up early find themselves rushed and stressed. So instead of getting up early, start giving yourself 15 minutes for tasks throughout your day. Arrive fifteen minutes early for meetings so you can give yourself extra mental energy. Plan for an extra fifteen minutes at the end of meetings so you can wrap up your notes and next action steps.
  5. Do some meal planning on the weekends. Meal planning can take time out of your schedule that could be used in other more productive ways. So take time on the weekend and plan out some meals, do some early preparation and freeze some meals. This will create extra time during your week that could be quite valuable to the margin in your life.
  6. Keep a time limit on your social media activities. Being active on social media is important for a leader, especially a business leader. But social media can also prove to be a black hole that eats up valuable time for work and for margin in your life. Set a time limit on your social media activities and begin each session with work priorities. Connect with friends and colleagues next, but when your time limit is over, shut it down. Margin is often consumed with mindless activities that profit us little.
  7. Solitude. We live in a world of noise and people and chatter. Choosing to make solitude a priority in your life centers your mind, body and spirit in a way that will bring a healthy perspective to everything. Margin is often birthed in the freedom that solitude brings.
  8. Nap. There is extensive research that says that a 30-minute power nap in the middle of your day can rejuvenate you. Choosing to rest creates much needed margin.
  9. Learn the difference between a concern and a responsibility. When we find ourselves concerned about a particular thing, we are worried or anxious about it. When we have a responsibility, we have an actual duty and obligation to do something for someone or something. Margin is naturally created when you don’t waste time on concerns. As a leader, you need to fulfill your responsibilities. Concerns can be energy wasters because you often do not have the authority or ability to change it simply by being concerned about it.
  10. Learn to say NO. The best way to create margin is not to overextend yourself.

Start creating margin in your life today so that you can be the most effective and most balanced leader you can be.







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micro-managers the good the bad and how not to be the ugly shannon cassidy bridge between photo

Micro-Managers – The Good, The Bad and How Not To Be The Ugly

In 1966, Clint Eastwood starred in a movie titled “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” This spaghetti western told the story of three men searching for gold. The last scene is a famous three-way shootout, leaving the Good (Clint Eastwood) alive, the Bad dead and the Ugly barely surviving. In the world of business, we often encounter good, bad and ugly leaders. Many times these leaders are micro-managers. Is being a micro-manager a horrible attribute in a manager or not? Let’s take a look at micro-managers and how this complex characteristic can be good, bad or ugly.

The Good:

Few corporate executives aspire to be micro-managers. The ideal leader is supposed to be a great delegator and motivator, not someone who tries to control every aspect of their employee’s work.

However, a CEO who is a micro-manager has the ability to plow down obstacles and force uncooperative team members to take on challenges that drive the value of the product or service. Steve Jobs was famous for pushing his engineers past the bounds of what most considered reasonable—and getting great results from it. Walt Disney was a well-known micro-manager who obsessed over every detail of every ride design at his theme parks. This did not make him popular with his employees, but the end result was and is stellar.

To be an effective micro-manager, a leader must have a clear vision for success and how to achieve it. That leader must also be courageous and confident. If a plan fails, the buck stops at the micro-manager’s desk. Sam Walton of Wal-Mart and William Rosenberg of Dunkin Donuts were well-known micro-managers who spent a large part of their time visiting stores to make sure their products were of the best quality. The “Good” micro-managers above were all visionaries for their companies. Their passion for their businesses drove their desire for accomplishment. With that same kind of intense commitment, a micro-manager can propel a company to success. “Good” micro-managers can be an asset.

The Bad:

Unfortunately, micro-managers are usually seen as “Bad.” While they can be assets, micro-managers obsessively control and bring tension and frustration to their companies. If you are a leader with this style, you might sometimes feel driven to push everyone around you to succeed, but often it’s at the cost of your colleagues’ confidence.

You might be a “Bad” micro-manager if you:

  • Resist delegating
  • Correct tiny details instead of looking at the big picture
  • Discourage others from making decisions without consulting you
  • Ask for frequent updates on where things stand
  • Prefer to be cc’d on emails
  • Are never satisfied with anyone’s work

If you find that micro-managing is part of your style of leadership but is negatively affecting your company and the people you lead, change is possible.

 How Not To Be the Ugly:

Commit to hiring the right people. Look for employees that are accountable for their work. Screen possible additions to your team to see if they proactively seek information and feedback. Hire team players that are clear on the company’s goals and are able to articulate it back to you. If you create an extensive hiring process, you will be able to more easily trust your employees, and thus cutting the need to micro-manage.

Clearly and frequently communicate expectations. If your team doesn’t know what you expect, they will not give it to you. Communication is important so that you do not have to control what others might or might not be doing. Set consistent times for this type of communication. For instance, on a certain project set a meeting once every month to make sure everyone is on the same page. Be careful not to treat your team like children who need to be told the rules again and again.

Listen. Great leaders are masters at listening to their team members. Micro-managers often fail to listen to their employees, arrogantly believing they know best in all circumstances. The people you work with have important insights and ideas. If you don’t listen, they will feel disengaged and their work will suffer. If you choose to listen, you will create an atmosphere where your employees feel that they are valued contributors.


As a leader, you have the responsibility to root out the bad micro-managing, fix the ugly and encourage the good. Prevent a three-way shoot-out: address the micro-managing in yourself and others directly. By doing so, you will find the gold in your company.






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