“What is the one essential thing that leaders do, that no one else gets to do?”
Consider the fact that in 2004 there were 9,000 Blockbuster stores worldwide, and in 2011 Dish Network bought Blockbuster for a “bargain price” of $320 million. By then Blockbuster had shrunk to 300 stores and filed for bankruptcy in 2010. But beyond being an iconic curiosity, what does this mean for contemporary leaders?
When you think about leadership, the one thing that leaders do that makes them different from any other person, is they DECIDE. They also decide WHEN they are going to decide. They not only determine the direction their organization is going to move, they also manage the clock of when they make those decisions and choices.
With decision-making, we are faced with the question-- How do I make very difficult choices?
Do you know how to inspire your team or organization so they follow you? What if there is a challenge or setback? Will they stay by your side, hunker down and fight with you, or head for the hills?
Before we dive into these big questions, let’s talk about the word “leadership.”
If you try and Google a definition of the word “leadership” you will be inundated with over 2 billion results! With so many definitions to sift through I have come to like the one by President Dwight Eisenhower best.
Leaders have to decide what must be done and get others to want to do it.
The most important part of this definition – and the hardest – is getting others to buy into your vision for the organization and WANT to take action on it. Getting buy–in from those who are actually going to make it all happen, is the key to success.
Here is my 3-step process for inspiring confidence during difficult times.
Step 1: Dealing with Change
As a leader you have to deal with changes in the organization and changes in the environment. No matter if changes are in or out of your control, it can still shake your teams confidence. Distrust and uncertainty can spread quickly and significantly hinder the success of a sale, a project, a team, or an organization. Change WILL happen. A successful leader will embrace that change and chart a new course for their team. This brings me to step 2.
Step 2: Setting the Vision
It is the responsibility of the leader to continually remind their subordinates of the vision for the organization to help keep everyone working towards the same goals. Setting and reminding people about the vision is of utmost importance during difficult times, problems, and setbacks. Keeping everyone focused on the vision of the organization will serve as a positive reminder and everyone working towards a common goal. When hard times hit, keep your vision in mind, and then implement step 3.
Step 3: Optimism in the Face of Uncertainty
On June 5th, 1944, General Dwight Eisenhower met with young paratroopers from the 101st Airborne Division. Eisenhower knew that these men would be parachuting into Nazi-controlled France, in what we now call The Normandy Invasion. Rather than give the men last-minute instructions on tactics or strategy, his mere presence assured them that this plan was going to work. Eisenhower is quote telling his staff in March of that year, “This operation is being planned as a success. There can be no thought of failure. For I assure you there is no possibility of failure.”
As you are leading your team through difficult times never forget that, as author and leadership expert John Gardner said,“The first and last task of a leader is to keep hope alive!”