It's no secret that the economy is faltering, and it is unclear what we can expect from the future. When our work is disrupted - whether through a layoff, or through increased pressure because our co-workers have been laid off - it's not uncommon to start evaluating what the Management team is doing.
You may be questioning what your boss or boss' boss is doing. If you lead a team, you can bet they are scrutinizing and questioning your actions. A few weeks ago I attended an interesting seminar on "Leading in Tough Times" where a panel of well-known local leaders talked about how they have approached leadership during tough times when the employees were questioning their every move.
The 7 speakers covered far more territory than I can cover in a short blog posting, but two points really stuck with me. Whether you actually lead a team or you are just looking to be seen as a leader among your peers at work, these points may be useful to you:
1. "Good intentions not backed by behavior are a problem." - You may be hoping your company weathers this storm well. You may want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. But unless you can translate those intentions into tangible actions that loudly and clearly communicate that you are working to move things forward, don't expect people to know what you are thinking. This is not the time for ambiguity, for shrinking back, or for standing on the sidelines. Communicate verbally that you want to help, and back it up with your actions. If you aren't sure if what you are doing is helpful, don't just make stuff up in your head, figure out who is smart and knowledgeable and ask them for guidance: "Will this help?" "What else can we do here?"
2. "The most effective leadership style is the one the organization needs now." - Sometimes organizations need people leaders - those who have an intuitive sense of how others are feeling, and can empathize and encourage. Sometimes organizations need visionary leaders - those who can envision a productive new future on the other side of the chaos and chart a course to get there. Believe it or not, sometimes organizations even need "bureaucratic leaders" - people who can dig in, understand minute details and process, and navigate a painstaking course through complexity. If you want to be a good leader at your company, figure out what type of leadership is needed and what you can do to deliver it.
Organizations are desperate for leaders at all levels and they are not going to appear out of nowhere. If you are still employed, count your blessings and then go use your situation for good. If you are laid off and looking for a new job, then put your leadership abilities to work in your family and your community - it will show through in your job search and you will be a standout candidate.
It's Monday morning - let's get after it!