Blog

  • Leading in Crisis: Six Winning Tactics for Tough Times

    Crisis situations, whether they are the result of natural or man-made disasters, are the ultimate leadership test.  In the first two decades of this century public and private sector leaders have had to deal with the 9/11 terrorist strikes, the 2008-2009 financial recession, devastating hurricanes, and business-crippling cyber attacks.  Now the novel coronavirus pandemic presents unparalleled challenges of intervention, coordination and collaboration both within and across countries globally.

    As Jawaharlal Nehru noted, “Every little thing counts in a crisis.”

    Here are six field-tested pointers for leading effectively in tough, turbulent times.

  • Crisis Leadership: Five Deadly Leader Behaviors

    Security failures and questionable business practices are among the latest bad news afflicting Facebook.  Boeing, Pacific Gas & Electric, and Deutsche Bank are examples of other companies that have been in crisis communication mode lately.

    These high-profile cases are a timely reminder that business crisis situations, whether they’re the result of questionable executive judgment, cyber attacks, industrial accidents, or natural disasters, are the ultimate leadership challenge.

    Intense public scrutiny and 24/7 media coverage mean that leaders’ actions and – even more importantly – their reactions are both high-stakes and high-visibility.

    Indeed, how leaders react to a crisis can make the difference between successfully navigating through turbulent times and crashing on the rocks.  Individual and organizational reputations are on the line.

    But here’s the rub:  When leaders and their board directors are under pressure, they – like all people – are at greater risk of behaving in ways that are defensive and maladaptive.  Let’s take a look at the most common ineffective responses to crisis situations.

  • Can You Trust Your Brain? – Three Decision Risks Your Mind Creates

    right_wrong decisionUnderstanding risk is at the core of management and board effectiveness.  Every day decision makers consider options and make choices based on their expert judgment and analysis of probable success.

    But there is one business risk that can lurk outside leaders’ awareness.  In fact, this risk comes from inside their own heads in the form of mental biases.  And no one is immune.

  • What Makes a High Definition Leader?

    Today’s headlines are replete with words like “disruptor” and “reformer” in describing the behavior of high profile leaders.

    But how does a leader prevent change from becoming chaos? Or reform from prompting revolt?

    She needs to be a High Definition Leader (HD Leader) and surround herself with a top-flight team that also possesses HD Leader qualities and capabilities.

    THE PAST AS PROLOGUE

    I first discussed High Definition Leadership almost a decade ago when we were in the depths of the Great Recession. Back then most of my CEO and director clients faced unprecedented business and personnel challenges.  Uncertainty and fear reigned amidst economic contraction and red ink.

    I urged them to lead in “high definition” as a way of keeping their stakeholders engaged and focused during turbulent times.

  • Why You Don’t Need That Vacation

    By Susan Battley

    Vacation-crop

                                                   “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”   – Marcel Proust

     

    With more than half of the year over and the summer zipping by, let’s take a fresh look at why you don’t need to take a break from work:

    • You think you’re indispensable. No one can fill your shoes, or hold down the fort in your absence. Even with all the available technologies that can keep you in touch with the office – and them with you – your physical presence is essential to keep disaster and mayhem from occurring.
    • Fresh ideas and perspective are immaterial to your ongoing success. Who needs a refresher period to spark creativity when you can bask in the comfort of same-old, stale thinking?
    • Others might slack off in your absence. You wouldn’t want to be a role model for anything other than a strong work ethic.
    • You have no personal life. Workaholism is a strategy for filling a void or avoiding challenges or dysfunctions in the rest of your life.

    I could go on, but I think you get my tongue-in-cheek point.

    Just as athletes need to alternate performance with rest periods for optimum results, smart professionals realize that vacations are critical to maintaining their competitive and creative edge at work.

    The alternative is a loser’s game, maybe not in the short-term, but definitely in the long run: burnout, subpar decision quality, and decreased innovation and motivation. Don’t delude yourself into thinking otherwise.

    “Yes, but…”

    A refrain I hear all too often from executives is: “Yes, I really want some down time, but there is simply no end to the incoming demands and issues I have to tackle.”

    If this is your day-to-day reality, consider it a red flag that you are spread too thin and your situation is unsustainable. 

    Corrective action is needed.  Often this involves structural changes in roles and responsibilities, delegating to others, or adding personnel.

    If you have a history of not taking vacations, canceling planned vacations or scaling back vacation time after the fact, consider these as warning signs that something is amiss with your attitude and/or actual work responsibilities or performance.  A compulsive workaholic organizational culture can also be at fault.

    If you are a leader or senior decision maker, it’s important that you set the tone for vacation time by your own example.  Individual, team and organizational productivity will benefit over the long-term and promote sustainable success.

    [See also, Vacation Approved: Five Vacation Action Tips ]

    Copyright © Susan Battley.  All rights reserved.