Leadership in the Moment

Today’s business climate is filled with uncertainty. The elections are over, but what will happen next? We still have a Democratic Senate and a Republican House. Little can be counted as being set or settled. The tax code is scheduled to sunset – and the federal government can’t manage to pass a budget which has us heading into sequestration. Growing government involvement in healthcare is the direction, but the ACA leaves much of the detail to be determined. This economy is in recovery, yet at the slowest rate of growth since recovering from the depression.

Much of the Tri-state area is reeling from Sandy which brutalized our infrastructure, killed scores and will take years to repair.

How good are you – the leader – at operating in times of uncertainty? What is the uncertainty doing to your team and your organization?

Most writings on leadership say leaders need to (pick any 3): set strategic direction, put in place an appropriate leadership team, execute the strategy, create the culture, be the face of the organization to the outside world, plan the priorities for resources, etc.

For many, and I would argue for most, uncertainty contributes to stress. And uncertainty can arrive from three sources: work, self and life situations. Uncertainty in one part can create stress in another. Stress has been shown to dramatically impact productivity – the signs can be absenteeism, turnover, increased workers’ compensation claims, high need for medical care, etc.

Stress is not always bad though – many are propelled by stress to their highest levels of performance. But over time, and without returning to a "relaxed state", stress can overwhelm and debilitate.

So in these times I’m suggesting you consider yourself your organization’s CSR: Chief Stress Reliever. Engage your team often. Listen just a little more carefully. Buttress your support systems. Don’t drop employee support programs or space for physical activity and wellness. Allocate some extra resources to pay for others who engage your people and help them deal with their issues (like business coaches).

In today’s workplace, dominated by office workers, stress is most likely related to inter-personal relationships and "people problems" consisting of unclear management, tension among team members and fear of the unknown. Help your people take charge of their future – unlock your peoples’, and your organization’s, creativity and potential!

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