Last week I wrote about “weathering the storm’ and that was a first bite at the interesting topic of leading in challenging times. I gathered enough information to write a second blog on the same issue. Is it not wonderful that notwithstanding the challenging and volatile times that a lot of practioners and authors are sharing with the rest of us their thoughts and experiences on how best to navigate the times?

Let us count ourselves as extremely blessed that notwithstanding the so-called adverse conditions there is enough material at our disposal to equip us with the relevant tools.

John Maxwell’s reflections on the topic are quite encouraging as he asks the question – when do people need a leader the most? He argues that it is in times of volatility and uncertainty, as most people often freeze; stand still; start doubting themselves and there is a lot of indecision. He sights the role the then Mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani played during the 9/11 crisis. What had happened in New York was unprecedented and many people were left despondent. The role Mayor Giuliani played was instructive in terms of leading the charges, making the necessary decisions to bring New York back to functionality; created a makeshift command centre whilst calming everybody in and around the city.

Leading from the front requires agility, self-confidence, resilience and clarity of purpose. Great leaders are not the ones who run for cover during difficult times; they stand up to be counted and ensure that they rally the troops and bring a sense of hope and direction, in other words they bring a certain level of calmness to the situation and bring everybody on board in seeing the bigger picture.

It is my submission that in order to play this role a leader needs to have certain attributes that they bring to the party and these I discuss below:

  • Know your worth– leaders need to know what they stand for; what are their strengths and what destination/direction are they leading everybody to?   Often times I ask leaders what do they have to offer; what do they bring to the organisation and more importantly what is their legacy? I often get surprised about how many people have not confronted these questions. My advice is – spend time on these big questions and create clear and measurable indicators for yourself in whatever leadership role you play.
  • Be content – knowing your worth and value proposition put a leader in great stead to lead the charges and often times he or she is less swayed by stuff that derails them from their course. They are able to discern between a small breeze that is creating a minor turbulence from the real winds of change, which might even require a change in strategy and tactics. More importantly, they know when things are about themselves and when stuff is about the environment and are able to respond appropriately.  In addition, they are confident in what they do and don’t personalize things.
  • Strengthen your emotional intelligence – I have come across many leaders and managers who are often not conscious of their impact on others. They could be knowledgeable and outstanding individual performers but are oblivious to the needs of the collective and often lose support from team members just by the way they relate to others.   The doorway to greater emotional intelligence is self-awareness. Ask for feedback on how you impact on people and dedicate time to personal reflection as well.  Maya Angelou famous quote on this is – “I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but will never forget how you made them feel”
  • Build stamina and grit – this quality is required and gives you that extra motivation to work harder than everyone else.   Angela Duckworth’s work on this is instructive and she defines “grit” as that extra something that separates the most successful people from the rest – it’s the passion, perseverance and stamina that we must channel in order to stick to our dreams until they become a reality.

I am starting Mastermind classes in September in order to work with leaders to build these often intangible but necessary skills. Working in groups and online (video calls from the comfort of your office/home) I will be leading conversations and engagements with like-minded leaders who are prepared to invest in themselves and build their success index up a few notches. If you are game please contact me so that we enroll you accordingly.

Pam Yako

Leadership and Success Coach

‘Helping women leaders to be attuned and find their inner goddess’

+27 12 998 7337 or +27 82 550 5225


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