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Maintaining a Leadership EDGE in Turbulent Times

image credit: ID 91244017 © Sergey Khakimullin | Dreamstime

Why is it that some people seem to weather any business storm or crisis without appearing to break into a sweat? How is it that they always seem able to recover from a stumble and move on to even greater success? Are they immune to failure because they have won the Success Lottery? No. Those who achieve success during turbulent times do so because they have an EDGE to their approach to leadership: They understand the value of external information. They establish a framework for their decision-making. They develop goals to provide a focus for accountability. They also take advantage of outside experts to provide them with additional insight.

External Information is Essential

Leaders who have an EDGE in achieving success no matter the situation understand the value of using external information. They know it is vital to understanding what is going on with the target markets they serve, especially when they are in a distressed situation. These leaders continually reassess their assumptions about their circumstances and they look for deeper insights to help them understand the complexity of the distressing situation.

EDGE leaders focus their time and energy on asking the hard questions that help them go deeper into understanding the alternatives available for resolving their situation. They do not hide in their office with the door closed when they are working through a challenging situation. They get out of their day-to-day bubble and look outward to gain new ideas.

EDGE leaders leverage abundant external information to provide them with insights to use for reviewing their own situation. This external information is often the catalyst for a new beginning. They adapt and take advantage of evolving circumstances and emerging opportunities to provide a foundation for even greater future success.

Decisions Use a Framework of Critical Criteria

Leaders who have an EDGE always develop a solid framework for making critical decisions. They understand that this framework will help them manage their emotions as they deal with the anxiety and pressure brought on by a business crisis. A solid decision framework provides focus for the criteria that they will use to evaluate their options. They also use their decision framework to consider the implications of each choice available to them.

Leaders with an EDGE use the questions they asked during the information gathering phase to ensure they consider a wide range of alternative solutions. Yet they drive their decision-making by using their decision criteria to help them establish a framework for their priorities. They are attentive to the nuances each option provides. They prioritize the value of each element of their decision criteria. They use their decision framework to determine what they need to do to reclaim their success as they sort through their various decision options. Knowing the boundaries for their decision-making gives them a more objective sense of how to evaluate their options. It moves them to a more detached and impartial view as they go through their evaluation process.

These leaders do not avoid making decisions. They use decision criterial to control their emotions and stay focused on the most critical decisions that need to be made. They consider the consequences of implementing each option and are laser-focused on the elements that matter the most to resolving the critical issues.

Goals Focus on Daily Accountability

Leaders who have an EDGE set high goals for themselves. When circumstances collide to put up barriers to their achievements, they reassess their goals and then create new ones. Their goals stretch their leadership capability and provide them with clarity for their on-going learning to expand their excellence. They establish metrics to measure their goal achievement. They use data and information to measure their performance.

Everything they do is focused on moving through the tough time to seek out options for resolving the situation. Yet these leaders take it further by pushing themselves to achieve even more. They view a difficult time as something that tests their abilities. They embrace the challenge this provides and they trust themselves to succeed by using thoughtful processes. They know they have the tenacity and focus to reach their goals each day and throughout their careers.

EDGE leaders view their role as one in which they need all hands-on deck to solve the problem.  They share accountability with other members of their team which helps to deepen team bonds while creating stretch challenges for them too. The best EDGE leaders hold their teams accountable but they never abandon their team or the challenge. They work collaboratively to resolve it.

Experts Provide Additional Insight

Leaders who have an EDGE use outside advisors to augment their understanding of their options and to serve as an objective sounding board. The best advisors are the ones that challenge the leader’s thinking and help move them beyond the status quo. Seasoned advisors have seen challenging situations like this countless times. These leaders take advantage of outside expertise to gain deeper insight and move more quickly to understand and implement their available options.

Outside advisors may bring forward alternatives that had previously been dismissed because they were not fully understood or how to tweak them for effective implementation. Once the array of options is on the table, working with outside advisors helps EDGE leaders assess the real benefits of each alternative while supporting them as they deal with the overload and pressure of a distressing situation. These leaders don’t feel so alone or isolated from deeper insights. Outside experts also provide a buffer so they can maintain their leadership authority in front of their employees.

Final Thoughts

Using the leadership EDGE to achieve success in turbulent times is not easy. It requires discipline, laser focus and daily effort. Those who continue to achieve success even after surviving a crisis recognize that they have to change and adjust to the evolving situation. When they do, they create opportunities to develop a real strategy for enduring success. When you thoughtfully look at your own circumstances, you can develop your own leadership EDGE to evaluate your situation and chart a course for ongoing success.

Jill Johnson's picture

Thank Jill for the Post!

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Feb 3, 2020 10:28 pm GMT

Leaders who have an EDGE use outside advisors to augment their understanding of their options and to serve as an objective sounding board

This is valuable-- but there's definitely a segment of the business world who will always believe those in house know best. What do you think is the best way to convince leaders in an organization that an outside perspective is valuable and necessary?

Jill Johnson's picture
Jill Johnson on Feb 4, 2020 6:12 pm GMT

Great question Matt. There are several ways to encourage bringing an outside advisor. Key is to consider the WHY you want to bring someone from the outside into the organization.

1) If there is an internal disagreement that is not being resolved, suggest bringing in an outside advisor can provide a more objective assessment.

2) It the organization has been somewhat lacking in innovation or stale, often sales will lag. Suggest bringing in an outside advisor to offer new ideas or tweaks to what you are doing to stimulate dialog.

3) If the situation is dire, an outside advisor can provide a more rapid response to alternatives for resolution.

One reason most organizations are hesitant to bring in an outside advisor is they are not sure they can trust them. And frankly, not all of them are worth trusting. There are many charlatans masquerading as experts these days. To vet prospective advisors, read their books and articles, go listen to their speeches, and set up initial consultation calls to explore how you might work together. Look for those who have been working as advisors for a long time. This generally shows their seasoning and is more of an indicator that they are not faking it. Those who recently shifted into an advisory role might be fabulous, but caution is recommended. Also check references. In those initial calls, ask for names of clients you can talk with ... then call them!

You can also minimize the damage by focusing their work on a small engagement as a bit of a test run. Then depending on how the chemistry and advice goes, you can scale up from there. Or bail.

Finally, just like it is a good idea to build your network before you need it, you want to vet potential advisors long before you need them. 

Hope this helps!



Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Feb 4, 2020 10:58 pm GMT

Appreciate the response, Jill-- that's very helpful.

Also really like this advice:

You can also minimize the damage by focusing their work on a small engagement as a bit of a test run. Then depending on how the chemistry and advice goes, you can scale up from there. Or bail.

Test runs are always a good idea!

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