This months Leadership Column from Doug Dickerson:
When I hear somebody sigh that life is hard, I am always tempted to ask, compared to what?
– Sydney Harris
What are the top challenges you face as a leader in your business or organization? In a list generated by Sheryl Nance-Nash at dailyfinance.com she provides the Top 10 Challenges for CEO’s in 2011.
The top concerns are: eking out growth in an uncertain economy, preparing for and reducing employee flight, acknowledging the customer is boss, surrendering to social media, keeping pace with regulation, protecting against increased risks, going global, watching your reputation, keeping up with technology, and staying ahead of the competition.
Take this list and couple it with any and all other interruptions, distractions, and unexpected issues that cross your desk each day it is wise to heed the advice of John Maxwell who said, “It is lonely at the top so you better know why you are there.”
So how do you take on all of the challenges of being a leader? Perhaps the advice of an old woodsman about catching a porcupine will help. He says, “Watch for the slapping tail as you dash in and drop a large washtub over him. The washtub will give you something to sit on while you ponder your next move.” That you will face prickly situations is a given – how you face them will set you apart. Here are three suggestions to help you face your challenges and make the most of them.
Embrace your reality. Just as it is important to cast vision for your organization it is equally essential to live in the now. As you understand conditions on the ground, listen to your people in the trenches, you will best know what action to take and how to lead forward.
C. S. Lewis said, “The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavorable. Favorable conditions never come.” And this is a philosophy of leadership that will take you far. Embrace the moment you are in, don’t wait for favorable conditions, press forward now. Have you embraced your reality?
Engage your team
. Essential to the how well you address the challenges of leadership rest in how close you keep your team. Whether you are trying to prevent employee flight, engage social media or keep pace with customer needs, the level of success you enjoy can be traced to a well engaged team.
Consider the environment of your organization. Are team members brought in for discussions that directly impact their area of work? As you engage your team and work together you will build with continuity a team that is prepared for all of the challenges you face.
Expect the best. Keeping up with the demands of your business or organization can be daunting. Every business faces its own unique set of challenges. But the expectations and hopes you bring into the mix will create the attitude by which they are addressed. Your team will only move in the direction of your expectations.
Sam Walton said, “High expectations are the key to everything.” The expectations you bring to your business or organization creates the culture that will dominate. It will be the topic of conversation from the water cooler to the board room. If as a leader you are not pleased with the direction your organization is headed then consider your expectations. What are you communicating? What you believe you speak, what people hear they act upon, and the results are self-fulfilling prophecies.
As a leader you are faced with many challenges and great opportunities. As you face reality, engage your team, and expect the best, you will position your business for great success. The next move is yours so make it count.