So let me ask you.... How are you letting the
current economic uncertainty impact you?
These are challenging times. As much as I'd
love to believe we're rising out of the mire, there's enough
ambiguity and lack of national leadership from both political
parties that there's plenty of reason to be concerned. That concern
can make it even more difficult to lead those on your team who
perhaps share even greater concerns.
Leading in times of pressure is what Justin Menkes book
is all about. In this premium episode I want to highlight
some points from the interview with Justin about you can better
navigate these challenging times.
Perspective. In my book entitled
Navigating the Winds of Change: Staying on Course in Business & in
Life, I share how perspective is one of the key ways to thrive
during times of high change. Certainly perspective is important
these days, so here's a start: Let's not forget that it's been
really bad before. Though it sounds rather cliché-like right now,
there's wisdom in the saying that "This too really shall pass.” As
difficult as it is, I try to remember that challenge can be good.
It can keep us focused and innovative if we don't let it paralyze
us. Too much of the good can actually cause complacence and
boredom. There's no time for us to be bored these days as we have
to bring our A game each day to make sure we're delivering value.
But let's not forget that better times will eventually arrive.
Courage. Times of high pressure demand
courage. Remember that courage doesn't mean absence of fear. If you
don't have moments of concern you're probably in denial! But
courage is moving forward in spite of the fear. It's being willing
to step up and refuse to be the victim. I'm actually spending some
extended time working with my teenage sons on the topic of being
courageous. It's applicable to all of us that desire to thrive
during times of pressure, whether at home or in the workplace.
Action. It's been said that one of the best
antidotes for anxiety is action--taking action instead of sitting
back and worrying. What actions do you need to be taking? Maybe
it's updating your resume. Certainly it's looking at ways to invest
in your skills and abilities. Frankly, I'd love to have you in my
Leadership Fast Track Program next year to help accelerate your
ability to lead. Maybe it's watching less 24 hour news that has a
way of sensationalizing the bad to keep reaping ratings. But let's
be clear: sitting back and worrying or even hoping for the best
isn't going to help. Taking some action is a great way to attack
Develop. How are you improving your ability to
deal with stress? How are you preparing people around you? Justin's
research is clear that being resilient is not just a matter of
whether you got the right DNA or not! To a great degree it's
nurture, not just nature. Look at the pressure as opportunities to
be tested. Watch for those above you who seem to handle stress
better than others. What do they do? Offer to take them to lunch to
ask them about how they maintain perspective during difficult
times. Part of taking action is to develop your own
Realistic Optimism.Blind optimism
may put on a good face, but people see right through it. They can
smell it from a distance in baseless promises and unfounded
enthusiasm. The alternative that Justin talks about is realistic
optimism. It's a deep-seated confidence that acknowledges there are
risks and obstacles but that we can do this together. How you feel
about the future will ooze from your words, body language and vocal
tone--whether it's positive or negative. Justin's book provides
many insights on how develop realistic optimism but here's my
question for you: where are you on the spectrum? Have you been
brewing a negative or pessimistic spirit? I talked with a colleague
in the last week who wanted me to be a sounding board to help her
prepare for a job change. She reeked of negativity and I know that
will waft out like a stench to hiring managers. What do people
smell when you talk with them? The sickening sweet scent of blind
optimism is not the alternative. Rather, it's the smell of someone
who is real--who is grounded in reality but can radiate hope in
spite of the circumstances.
Agency. Remember Justin's comments about our
sense of agency? A key to overcoming stress is to not allow
ourselves to succumb to vicimitis! As Justin mentioned, regardless
of what you've been dealt, how can you maximize your opportunities?
What can you do? Use that same mindset to help people around you
when they are falling into being a victim. Help them develop a bias
Meaning. As Justin reinforced in the
interview, we all have a need to matter. He said one reason why
Southwest delivers such incredible performance in an enormously
challenging industry is that their employees feel that their jobs
matter. Do you see your role as making a difference? What is it
that you and your team are doing that matters? Kouzes and Posner
suggest that everyone on our team needs to know with great clarity
who the customer is. As former head of P&G A.J. Lafley said, we
all need to know the "hot breath of the customer." Team and
motivation expert Dr. Adam Grant told me in an interview that it
can be helpful to get actual customers in front of your team,
helping us all understand the difference that we make for actual
people. Help your team understand that what they do matters and you
might just find them more focused and resilient during difficult
De-herofy! I sat next to a former NFL player
on a recent flight. He's truly a nice person--I greatly enjoyed our
discussion. But it was clear to me that he's his own worst critic.
How about you? Don't beat yourself up. Justin talked about
de-herofying leaders. You can't be perfect--you'll make mistakes.
Have someone you can trust that you can talk with frankly--maybe
even whine to or vent--because you can't do it with your team.
Expect excellence but don't require perfection.
Justin's book is primarily targeted to senior leaders
but there's wisdom there for all of us. It's a book to
consider adding to your team's library.
Please take a moment and stop by our podcast Facebook page! I invite you to Like it
and the join the discussion.
Thank you for being a premium subscriber to The People
and Projects Podcast. Please let me know what questions
you have and if there's anything I can do to help you lead and
deliver. Thank you for joining me for this premium episode of The
People and Projects Podcast! Have a great week!
Welcome to the People and Projects Podcast, where we provide interviews and insights to help you lead people and deliver projects. Since 2009, this show is brought to you by speaker, author, and executive coach Andy Kaufman. If you're looking for insights on project management, leadership, and how AI influences both of those, you've come to the right place! And if you hold a project management certification, you can even earn free PDUs for listening!