In a way, leadership is like parenting…
It has shining moments when we get to inspire our teams – motivate them, speak into their growth, watch them succeed, and then celebrate with them.
And then it has not-so-shining moments… difficult conversations, disciplinary meetings, and – especially these last few years – moments of crisis where they need us more than ever.
This is one of those moments.
Militaries, economies, and businesses worldwide are responding to the war in Ukraine. As they plan their support, leaders are beginning to ask themselves, “How does this situation affect us at home? How do we discuss this with our teams?”
These moments that are not just uncomfortable, but crucial – and for many, dire, even – are when our leadership truly reveals itself. Your next step is a very telling one.
Max De Pree said, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality” – and that is exactly what leaders must do now.
Personally, I tend to be too optimistic. It is my nature as a people person. I cannot ignore glaring issues, but I do not want to dwell long on them, either. I want to address them, then move past them.
Maybe some of you are like this. We use wishful thinking; we try to hold our heads high in the face of crisis but often find ourselves underestimating the impact.
Some leaders only see part of the big picture. surround themselves with people who see things the way they do and thus rob themselves of a full perspective.
Some leaders are afraid, and this keeps them from recognizing the scale of a crisis. It is a very natural response to a situation with so much devastation, and so much unknown.
Still other leaders are not ready for another crisis. Maybe you can relate to this. You feel like we have just barely escaped the COVID pandemic and global recession – the world cannot bear the weight of another grief.
But that same pandemic has taught me that this is no way to treat a crisis. Leaders who cannot address reality and discuss it fairly will leave their teams to fend for themselves!
So then, how do leaders confront these things the way their team needs them to?
The potential challenges awaiting your team will require an understanding of the scale of the problem. Honest assessment is necessary to help brace them.
Specifically, you must provide your team with a realistic look at…
The situation. Often, it is worse than we think.
Again, I do not want to dwell in negativity. My instinct is to focus less on what we fear and more on what we can do about it. But a thorough understanding of what is wrong, what is at stake, and what that means for us and the world is central to finding a solution.
The process. Often, it takes longer than we anticipate.
Last 11 September, Americans honoured the 20th anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks. The country is still healing from the ramifications of that tragic day.
The attack on Ukraine is not a blip in the normal course of business – we will still be talking about it next year at this time, if not years and years from now.
That process will take time and we must give it the time to take place.
The price. Often, it costs more than we expect.
Hundreds of civilians have been killed in the fight with Russia. We must give them the honour due them.
But sometimes that cost is difficult for many of us to feel. We feel the economic cost at the petrol pump; we feel the political cost in increased tensions and embittered network news.
We feel the emotional toll it takes on our collective well-being.
Like a family keep track of funds, we must account for these taxes on our day-to-day and our team’s day-to-day so that they do not surprise us and we can pay them when they are due.
These are not the popular parts of the leader’s job description. But the more honestly we can appraise these things, the better prepared our teams will be to face them – the better you can help them approach these things with confidence and readiness.
The better you can help them grow, even in crisis.
If you would like some perspective on how to go about this, my calendar is open. Click here to book a one-on-one call where we’ll see how you can use honesty to set your team up for success.
That’s all for now.
Until next time,
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