Leadership in Troubled Times
The first task of a leader is to keep hope alive. - Joe Batten
Leading an organization can be challenging, even when times are good. When times are troubled, it is even more important for leaders to come to the forefront and provide direction and inspiration. We face challenging times today with a weakened economy, layoffs, and intense scrutiny of a mistrustful public sector. As leaders, now is the time to stand up for our beliefs.
I subscribe to a value based leadership theory that has as much if not more relevance in our troubled times today than it has in the past. Leadership is about hope, vision, inspiration, communication, and trust. As a leader, you have the opportunity to provide vision and hope to those around. You have the opportunity to instill belief and restore trust to those who look up to you. And you have the opportunity to build a bond with those around you that is forged under difficult circumstances and tempered with the steel of your own personal values and beliefs. I believe that this is true regardless of what level of leader you are. Whether you are a first line manager, or a CEO your people are looking up to you for direction and inspiration. And they are looking to you to provide them hope.
Is that a tall order for a leader at any level?
Yes. But this is what separates the true leaders from those people who are leaders only by title.
I believe that Joe Batten is right when he states that the first task of the leader is to keep hope alive. I believe that the second task of a leader is to communicate that hope and vision to their employees and their superiors in a way that builds trust and respect. With a strong foundation of values, a leader can inspire their people to achieve great things, produce fantastic results, and succeed while others around them fail. Without a values based foundation a “leader" may produce short term results but will fail the test of time as employees, without any basis for trust and respect will look for any opportunity to better themselves and remove themselves from the realm of a valueless based leader.
You do not lead by hitting people over the head - that's assault, not leadership. Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969) - Thirty- fourth President of the USA
Why is it that we hear about so many oppressive work environments, where the bosses belittle their employees, use the whip to produce results, and then discard anyone who questions their orders? When I read or hear about “leaders" telling their employees that they “are lucky to have jobs at all", I cringe. For in reality, those are not leaders. Those are just the caretakers of companies that do not truly value their most precious asset . . . . the employees. These “leaders" violate the principles of value-based leadership and will soon discover that their lack of true leadership, their lack of vision and hope, will result in their being abandoned when things improve.
He who thinks he is leading, but has no one following is only taking a walk. - John Maxwell " 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership"
Employees are the backbone of any organization. They, not you, make things work. They, not you, find creative solutions to complex problems. And they, not you, ultimately hold the key to your own personal success. For ultimately you are judged by your ability to develop, lead, and maintain strong teams that put the goals of the company ahead of their personal goals. And that only happens to employees who are inspired by, and trust in their leader.
If you want to know if you are truly a leader or not, look around at your team. Do they follow you because they want to? Because they are inspired by you? Because they believe in you? Or do they follow you because they have to.It is time to take a long, hard look in the mirror. Are you providing hope and inspiration to those around you? If not, when will you start.
David Meyer, owner of Coaching for Tomorrow, has more than 25 years of management and leadership experience, having worked for companies such as Nobil Shoes, McDonough, Allied Stores, MCI and Nextel Communications. His mantra, “You Win With People" is based on the deep-seated belief that hiring, developing, and promoting the right people can lead to organizational and financial success. As a management and leadership coach, David works to instill that same passion in his clients by helping them understand the importance of strong leadership, strong teamwork, and strong players.
David has a Bachelor's in Business Administration from Elmhurst College and has been certified by both ACTION International as a Business Coach and the Coach Training Alliance. He also has received his CTM from Toastmasters. He is an Officer in the Denver Coach Federation and a facilitator/trainer for the Coach Training Alliance and ACTION International of Colorado.
Married with two adult daughters, David is active in his local Kiwanis club and Crossroads Community Church. He enjoys reading, golf, scuba diving, and Civil War reenacting.