Monday, November 25, 2013

20 Tips For Leaders During Turbulent Times:

Last week Iasked readers to submit their burning leadership development questions. And boy, did they ever! Over 50 responses in just two days and more coming in every day!
I’m going to do my best to get to as many as I can. Those that get picked for a post will receive a free copy of my eBook.
This question from Bridgette:
“My organization is going through yet another re-organization. We are shifting people, projects and changing roles. We don't seem to have the big picture, therefore making it difficult as a leader in the department to support senior management.
During the re-organization or transformation of the department, what are the top objectives for the key leaders? What should be our focus to ensure success?

Bridgette, I feel your pain. I once worked in an organization and went through 8 reorgs, downsizings, and new bosses in 8 years.  If anything, we got really good at leading through chaos. If I had to summarize the three most important things for a leader to focus on to ensure success in turbulent times, it would be:

1. Manage your own response to the change. Your employees will be watching you – what you say, how you say it, what you do, etc…. Do your best to set a positive example and be a role model for resiliency and dealing with the uncertainty.
2. Communicate. This is not a time to hunker down and wait until you have all of the “right” answers. Make yourself accessible, talk to people, listen, and do your best to gain clarity from your own leaders.

3. Involvement. Find ways to get people involved, in whatever way you can. Passengers don’t get carsick from the motion – it’s from the lack of control. Give them a sense of control.

Those are the big 3 themes from the list below that jump out for me. Here’s a more complete list for leading during turbulent times:
1. Make time to get out and see people. When you are with them spend most of the time listening.

2. Resist the urge to try and take control of everything.  Instead get your star performers involved and rely on them.
3. Tell your people everything that might matter to them.  If there are things you cannot tell them, tell them that.

4. Strong emotions will not disappear overnight.  Provide opportunities for people to talk.  Be patient.
5. Build trust by framing everything you do and say in a way that expresses your trust in them.

6. Find ways to involve as many people as possible as early as possible.
7. Be reliable by doing exactly what you say.  If you don’t admit it and explain.

8. Reward people for doing what needs to get done.
9. Show that you care about everyone in the organization including those that may not be directly impacted.

10.Be careful to not let sarcasm or cynicism creep into your language.
11. Provide more frequent feedback to let people know they are appreciated for doing the right things and making improvements.

12. Bolster self esteem by helping people see their strengths.
13. If you cannot tell people something explain why in sufficient detail.

14. Suggest people participate in change skills sessions.
15. Replace or adjust the measures that do not reflect the current priorities.

16. Go out of your way to reinforce the behavior and results desired.
17. Re-affirm the important project milestones and deliverables.

18. Separate what is “business as usual” from what is or soon may be different.
19. Focus on individual coaching in a way that helps people see themselves being successful.

20. Pay extra attention to your star performers. They are often the first to get insecure.


Sean Glaze said...


Terrific and helpful post to focus leaders on actions they can control in the midst of adversity...

I especially like #11 and #15.

Every team experiences change and while it helps for each piece of the puzzle to see where they fit in the big picture, the key is to continue to "manage our own response" and strengthen connections with the people we influence.

Dan McCarthy said...


Unknown said...

During turbulent times people are thirsty for as much information as possible even if its bad news. Transparency builds connection and trust

Dan McCarthy said...

Karin -
Thanks, so true!