In Tough Times, Leadership is a Whole New Ball Game

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Leaders need to engage their people, be good listeners and set the right example.

April 01, 2010

The burden of the economic recovery extends beyond unemployment statistics, business failures and the financial markets. It forces us to modify our behavior on several fronts, personally and professionally. How it impacts the leadership role was a topic of a recent Urban Land Institute roundtable discussion. Here are the highlights: Communication is king

  1. It's not enough to simply communicate with your team. For maximum effectiveness, increase the frequency of communication. This goes a long way toward curbing speculation and helping team members stay focused.
  2. Withholding relevant information leads to speculation, rumors and hearsay. If bad news lands on the doorstep, better to share it than not.
  3. Share what needs to be shared, but don't over-inform. People deserve to hear the truth, but not beyond the facts that pertain to them.
  4. Take internal audits to gauge team members' state of mind: What are they feeling? What are their needs? What can you do to support them?
  5. It's perfectly fine to not have answers to every question or comment. Listening is the first step to being an effective leader, and probably the most difficult for people in leadership.

Model the behavior you want to see in others

  1. Demonstrate dedication by pitching in outside your normal range of duties, going the extra mile and doing “whatever it takes.”
  2. You don't have to be the first to arrive and the last to leave every day. Just make sure you're not a LIFO — last in, first out.
  3. Remember, nothing kills morale more than a leader labeled as “Do as I say, not as I do.”

Engage the team

The ability to adapt to changing environments or market demands is critical to the success of any business. The same is true of the people on your team. Help them break free from the routine by encouraging feedback. Follow these three steps:

  1. Make certain everyone understands the basics and is pursuing those standards consistently.
  2. Keep everyone focused daily on the work at hand. This helps minimize distractions, gossip and needless speculation.
  3. Ask for input, ideas and feedback, and then try some of them. Celebrate the successes, no matter how small the impact. In times like these, your team needs all the wins it can get.

Read more posts by Rodney Hall at www.HousingZone.com/Blogs.

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