Leadership in turbulent times

Ever wondered about the thin line that divides leadership from leadershi*?

Are you dealing with tightrope walks in your daily schedule and decision making situations where uncertainty is a constant, and not a variable?

In such situations sometimes a virtue can turn villainous; I am pointing to a contradiction that already exists. Consequently decision making in these circumstances requires some obvious balancing steps. If that thought has not crossed your mind then let me walk you through your daily landmines.

The job asks for quick decision making and you as a leader pride yourself in this capability. Time is revenue lost and hence the need for speed. The greater challenge of making quick decisions is the ability to step back and evaluate the consequences. As leaders, we are expected to evaluate the impact and discuss with colleagues. Doing this helps you to incorporate views and sometimes make revised decisions in alignment with the constantly changing scenario. This can also be described as an expression of intellectual humility and the ability to change course, as many times as needed, and still reach the target.

Your decisions have to reflect the organization’s interest and not be viewed as personal agenda. This is also your responsibility. As Peter Drucker said leadership is all about carrying that responsibility. Even a hint of personal agenda can dilute your position. Ensure that your decision is devoid of your personality while you articulate the benefit in the larger picture to the organization.

During changing times being certain may be interpreted as arrogance. When you think you know, you are no longer paying attention and why bother since you already know. Pushing through with a sledge hammer can, in such situations, alienate people. Single mindedness, though essential to stay focused, may turn into an obsession. This may incapacitate you from assessing the impact on the organization in the bigger picture and more importantly on the people. It is important in such times to be self-reflective and demonstrate the ability to take feedback while being pragmatic and focusing on the essential.

Changing times require balances, for certain traits of a leader. Here are some tips to ensure that you are an effective leader even in the toughest of circumstances.
Being consistent is ever essential. Reportees and colleagues cannot be left wondering who will come to office today—Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde?
Espouse the value system and show your allegiance. Avoid what Mark Twain said “When red-haired people are above a certain social grade their hair is auburn”.
Do not betray trust as this is hard to earn and easy to break.
Display good intellect, courage (not bravado) and innovativeness even at the cost of change and believe that there is no word like over communication.

The author, Sandeep Raizada, is a senior management professional who has held key positions in leading global and Indian companies including HP, Asea Brown Boveri and Siemens. He is currently the Global Application Enhancement Manager with Logica