Dollars and Sense: Tough times still require good leaders

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Change is the one constant in today&8217;s business world. Acquisitions can happen seemingly overnight.

Rumors about potential acquisitions or of a company planning to sell off a key division sometimes continue for weeks or months. Partnerships form between competing organizations, causing unexpected market upheaval and negatively impacting the sales of their competitors.

Companies struggling to improve their financial performance often resort to staff reductions. In these and similar circumstances, a leader&8217;s job suddenly becomes significantly more difficult.

Tough circumstances are indeed the real litmus test of an organization’s leadership. Rumors lead to even more speculation. The company grapevine will be working overtime in difficult business conditions. So what’s a leader to do? Listed below are a few strategies that effective leaders use during difficult times.

uStay positive. Employees watch how leaders behave, especially in difficult times. If the leader is moping around with a sour look on her face, employees will recognize this and respond negatively. Productivity is likely to suffer as a result.

uCommunicate early and often. Leaders should devote large amounts of time and energy to communicating in difficult situations. Don’t sugarcoat things, just tell the truth. If you do not know something, never pretend that you do. Face-to-face communication is always the preferred approach.

uStay visible. Hiding in your office sends the wrong message. The leader needs to be accessible.

uFight the rumor mill. Never let the grapevine be the primary source of information. Stop falsehoods with accurate information.

uDo not let performance falter. This is a good time to initiate both individual and group performance discussions. Continue holding everyone accountable to their performance commitments and expectations.

uLook for recognition opportunities. To keep everyone focused on performance, seek out extra opportunities to recognize staff contributions.

Leading in difficult times is indeed one of the greatest challenges a leader will ever face. The strategies detailed in this article are but a few of the many approaches that leaders may utilize to succeed in tough times