How to Lead During Turbulent Times

“It seemed that every time I turned around, something broke or blew up,” Eric said.  “In a weak economy, we lost two major accounts, a new product roll out was behind schedule, and a warehouse burned.”

Eric explained further that his team members exchanged numerous phone calls, emails and held many meetings.  Another manager said, “It was total chaos.  There was no system.  Members interrupted each other and did not listen.  Suggestions bounced around randomly.  A few focused on blaming someone or something.  A ‘woe is me’ pall emerged.”

Eventually, Eric’s vice president joined the meetings and put forth a way to proceed that included the following:

  1. Rank the issues according to impact on mission.
  1. Identify actions to address the high-priority issues.
  1. Make decisions quickly and do not strive for consensus.
  1. Assign “owners” to carry out the action plans.
  1. Review actions weekly and adjust.

Some leaders mistakenly attempt to resolve all of the issues simultaneously.  Others allow too much discussion.  Input is important but incessant bickering eventually sucks up all of the team’s energy; members become dispirited and lose focus.

In short, avoid spending time on forces beyond your control, make decisions on high-impact issues and adjust as you go.


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