Most would agree that leading is tough a lot of the time. Sometimes as a leader you will find yourself in a situation where you are in really challenging times.
I can recall being in a leadership role where we had significant challenges in making payments to suppliers and even to employees because we were spending significantly more than we were generating in income.
When you are dealing with all of the issues that go hand in hand with the difficult situation you are in, it can be all too easy to make mistakes that cause long term problems.
So what’s my tips on leading in challenging times?
Get Clarity On The Scale of The Challenge
Before you can make decisions about what to do, you have to get clarity on the scale, size and complexity of the challenge you face.
It’s the kind of thing that sounds easy when you say it, but in reality it can be extremely difficult to get nailed down in practice.
Make Sure You Communicate The Challenge
It can be extremely tough to stand up in front of people in the organisation and acknowledge that things are not going as well they could be.
Trouble is if you don’t take control of the situation the rumour mill will become the source of communication.
Ask For Ideas
In organisations it is rarely the people at the top of the organisation that have all of the answers.
Usually people who are much closer to where the service is delivered have much better ideas on how to tackle issues.
Don’t let your personal ego and the need to look good get in the way of you actually asking for ideas.
In any challenging situation you are going to want ideas that are going to give some quick wins and those that are going to be laying the foundations for improvement over the longer term.
While these longer term issues may well take a little more time to work through, it’s vital to invest that time, otherwise all you will be doing is a series of temporary fixes.
Create A Plan
Ideas are fantastic. On the other hand it is implementation that makes the difference. Create a clear plan showing what you will do, the anticipated gains, the timing of those gains and who will be responsible for delivering those gains.
The important aspect of any improvement initiative is gaining and keeping momentum going. Make sure that there is regular check-ins and updates to ensure progress and provide support when people are stuck.
In the ideal world everything would run smoothly. In reality this is never the case. There will be setbacks, false starts, progress and then stagnation.
Accept this is just part and parcel of making any progress.
Duncan Brodie helps professionals to become better leaders.
Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 8,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.