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Five Essential Questions For Surviving Tough Times

January 27, 2009
Leadership Advisory
“Quit the wrong stuff. Stick with the right stuff. Have the guts to do one or the other.”
– Seth Godin

What a great time to lead. Every leader and manager dealing with the reality of this economic downturn has an opportunity to be a hero if they will be decisive. When our world is shaken and our routines interrupted, we must see it as an opportunity to stop doing the things that aren’t working and start doing things that will increase our chance for success.

A manager shared with me a conversation he recently had with his boss, the Regional Manager. In an attempt to encourage the Manager, the Regional Manager admonished him to “stay the course.” The manager responded, “No. We must change the course. What we have been doing is not working in these unprecedented times.”

I’m certain this exchange is happening in most offices in America today as leaders and managers attempt to find the best solutions, the right messages and make decisions that cause the least amount of damage. Finding the right message and how much information to share can be perplexing, but it must not be paralyzing. You will not get everything right and if you try to make perfect decisions your effectiveness may be diminished.

A good decision acted on today is better than a perfect decision delayed. People look to leaders for an honest interpretation of the situation they are facing and who will act in the best interest of the group. In my experience, people do not expect their leaders and managers to be perfect, but they do expect transparent decision-making and commitment to take action quickly. Doing nothing cannot be tolerated by those who are dealing with risk and uncertainty.

Give yourself and your team the advantage with these 5 questions:

  1. What wrong stuff must we quit doing first?
  2. What right stuff should we start doing today?
  3. Will we act on good decisions or wait for perfect solutions?
  4. How honest and transparent have I been with myself and those around me about the difficult situation we are in?
  5. Am I involving others in a collaborative way or trying to solve everything myself?

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