This is the follow-up article on ‘4 Things that keep Leaders up at night’. During our Leadership Development Programmes, presented over the years, The Mindspa Institute identified four things leaders lay awake at night and ponder over. In this article we want to help you manage your nightmares with these 4 solutions:
#1 Organisational structures and leadership styles.
As a business leader, you cannot control every appointment of staff or executive that was made in the past and that will be made in the future. Sometimes there are some bad leaders that outrank you and that developed the old style organizational structure you now have to work in. Especially leaders in middle management, have some story or another to tell you about having their fair share of bad bosses and hitting a brick wall when they proposed a change.
The best advice on dealing with bad bosses is to be assertive. Bad leaders create a culture of fear. But don’t be afraid to speak up without being disrespectful. Voice your needs, establish the boundaries and give your support publicly which will influence him privately.
On the other hand, fighting organizational structures put in place by top executives is sometimes a losing battle. You can merely communicate suggestions and try to change and make it work for your immediate team, but when you don’t get listened to at the higher levels, the best advice is to learn to accept, make the best of it and think of creative ways you can indirectly improve and make suggestions to initiate a change. You can’t lie awake at night about something you can’t change. Realize, accept and adapt.
#2 Losing key skilled people.
There are various reasons why people leave companies or decide to go work for the competition. Each person has their own agenda. The key is to find out what their concerns are and what motivates them and try to fulfil these needs. It might be salary related, a search for knowledge and increasing their skills, it might be a leap for new opportunities, it might be work hour flexibility or even a personal need for a change and new challenges.
The fact is that you should listen and then invest in developing your people. You can’t lie awake at night thinking what will happen if a key person leaves. You can only listen to them, and try your best to keep that person happy with what resources you have available. In the end…if that person wants to leave, they will. They might not even disclose all their reasons. Try to remember that there might be a better candidate waiting out there, and sometimes being a good leader is supporting key staff members to fulfill their dreams and jump for great opportunities.
Peter Baeklund explained it best with his scenario: CFO asked the CEO: “What happens if we invest in developing our people and they leave?” CEO: “What happens if we don’t, and they stay?” So from this, investing in your people to upskill them and then possibly leaving is a chance you have to take for the sake of business success. But if you make the grass as green as you can on this side, people rarely look to the other side.
#3 Dealing with a crisis or a difficult person.
Nobody gets along with everybody and crises are hardly easy to deal with. The main focus on handling this is to develop and be a strong emotionally intelligent leader. To influence, convince, motivate and deal with people requires a business leader to know what they want, their fears, their abilities and also how they perceive their tasks and general things at work. The best advice here is to remain neutral but be self-aware. Be in tune with what the problem is or seek to understand what the person wants.
Dealing with the crisis, you need to determine the true problem and find creative solutions to address and resolve it. Anticipate the crisis, prepare and act immediately if it does occur so that it doesn’t escalate. Be in control of the situation and then manage people’s expectations positively.
#4 Facing big changes.
Change is inevitable so set the expectations for your team members in that way. Change is never easy, but there is nothing wrong with it as long as it is change in the right direction. You can’t control everything, especially the way people feel or react towards change. The only thing you can do is manage the change to the best of your abilities and acquire change management skills to assist you in this process.
Put yourself in your employees’ and the whole department’s shoes. Imagine how they will feel when they are confronted with this change. Whatever you do, don’t lie about the change. Don’t dress it up and put sprinkles on top to make a negative change seem positive. Rather be honest and think practical. Have patience with the change process.