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Rising to the Challenge
When the going gets tough...
“Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.” ~ Publilius Syrus
"Hell of a week, huh?"
"Lemon, it's Tuesday." ~ paraphrased from 30 Rock
When things get “challenging,” we are tested as leaders. There are some things we can do to help bring our people through difficult times.
Prioritize. Make sure that your people (and you!) focus on time-critical tasks and essential concerns. Don’t spend a lot of time and effort on things that can wait.
Push yourself hard when you need to, but not to the point of exhaustion or burnout. Get the sleep, exercise, healthy food, quiet room so you can focus, or hugs from your kid that you need to recharge. You need to keep your energy and focus in a place where you can use them—if you drop from exhaustion, you are not going to be any good to anyone. And make sure your people don’t get to the point of exhaustion, either.
Stay positive, but realistic. “We’re going to get through this” is a good framing.
Give your people the encouragement, the resources, and the supports that they need.
Keep the lines of communication open.
If possible, set things up now so that, if things get “challenging,” you are at least somewhat prepared.
Plan ahead. Think through contingency plans. “If Jill’s flight is cancelled and she can’t get back in time, then Miguel will be her backup. Let’s make sure he has all the materials and bring him up-to-speed so he can handle the client meeting solo.”
Keep backups of important files, documents, hard drives, etc. in a second location. Don’t keep all of your eggs in one basket, or in a place or framework where a bottleneck might arise if the one person with the passcodes is suddenly offline, hospitalized, AWOL, etc. That includes YOU.
Many things in life are unpredictable. Never assume that things will continue as they are now, or that negative events will announce themselves in advance. As leaders, we need to get our people through the tough times. Be the person your people need in a time of crisis.