Seven leadership principles for leading in challenging times.
By Retired Brig. Gen. Becky Halstead
Founder of STEADFAST Leadership, LLC
Today’s business environment is similar to a battlefield. In order to lead through volatile conditions, business leaders must adopt key principles that will guide them through the process of change in order to help themselves, their workforce and the company grow stronger with each phase of the transition.
- Shift happens — how the leader responds matters
Regulatory requirements, recession, or new technologies can often throw an organization into chaos. When a major restructuring is required to accommodate a shift that is not in pace with company projections, clear guidance is critical.
While most people would focus on the shift itself, strong leadership focuses on the response – and the best response is to convert the challenge into an opportunity. During times of upheaval, leaders should base their decisions and interactions to lead in the way that they would want to be led. In other words, don’t judge employee performance solely based on what went right or wrong. Rather, judge them by how they responded to the situation.
- Leaders must enforce standards and hold themselves/others accountable
Upholding standards is critical for maintaining consistency and quality control. But doing so must go beyond words and policies. Leaders must define, set and enforce standards – and be accountable. If leaders don’t demand that the standards be met, they won’t meet the standards themselves. This doesn’t mean that an employee should be fired for not meeting a standard, but the situation must be dealt with, and people held accountable.
Leadership is becoming the example of what right looks and acts like, and stay committed to holding themselves accountable. Integral to this is being true to oneself. If you can be true to yourself, maintain honesty and self-awareness as you make decisions, develop relationships, and build teams you will uphold the high leadership standards that others can follow.
- Commitment to being your BEST
Leaders must strive to be the best. It’s not about being number one, but about pushing yourself and others to the limit. To build a team that flourishes, proactively extend yourself to team members, and reward the behavior you want to see without discouraging those who need additional training or support. Great leadership remains steadfast. Embrace rules, regulations and policies as structure to ensure standards of excellence are met or exceeded.
- Getting to leadership strong — diversification and continuous improvement
Promoting the concept of the betterment of others requires collegial dialogue among team members – with no judgments. This creates an innovative environment where diversity of thought is respected and sharing ideas is the norm. The success and buy-in of an idea are more likely to occur when individuals across an organization believe the concepts have been well thought out and presented for review, rather than as an order to be blindly followed.
- Having courage to change—develop new lines of operations to stay relevant and create growth
Leaders must correct, facilitate change and be impactful 24/7. It’s also important to strive to develop new areas for growth within the company, providing opportunities for employees to learn new skills that will drive change and help the company remain relevant. This is great leadership.
Change demands vision and strength and the power to move “can’t” to “can.” It’s important to overcome the mantra, “That’s the way we have always done it,” and be willing to take some risks.
- Be willing to transform and think differently
Surround yourself with people who are willing to challenge your thinking, who have different opinions, and who see the problem and solution from different perspectives. By doing so, you are better able to build a team equipped to think more creatively, come up with the best solutions, and sharpen your leadership skills in the process.
- Must be efficient and effective—and make a difference
It’s important for the leader of an organization to provide a clear vision and goals — and effectively share with others. This process must involve team members so that they have ownership of the process and can, therefore, become part of the solution and its successful execution. Engaging, involving and listening to team members are critical for shaping the team, and giving them direction.
This becomes critical during times of transition and sweeping change. While efficiency is important, effectiveness is critical. People matter – they keep you grounded and connect you with what is going on throughout the organization. You need to express gratitude for their selflessness, dedication and commitment.
About the Author
Retired Brig. Gen. Becky Halstead founded her own leader consultancy company, STEADFAST Leadership, LLC, after 27 years of service in the U.S. military and experience as executive director for a leadership consultancy company. She specializes in inspirational speaking (nationally and internationally), developing leader training programs, leader coaching, consulting, and advising. Her inspirational book, 24/7: The First Person You Must Lead is YOU, is available at Amazon in Paperback and for Kindle. Visit http://www.beckyhalstead.com/ for more information.