Challenging times are part of doing business. Some challenges can be foreseen, while others happen unexpectedly.

Every team occasionally faces crises.

It is these challenging times that are the true test of leadership. Leadership that falls apart at the first sign of trouble isn’t really leadership at all. Some organizations invest in executive coaching to help top leaders learn how to lead effectively during times of trouble. Here are eight of the most important leadership qualities that elevate teams to meet challenges.

1. Knowing How to Assess Situations Rationally

Strong leaders know how to assess problems and scenarios rationally, neither minimizing their importance nor blowing them out of proportion. To do this, leaders must draw upon their own experience, look at problems from multiple angles, and make an honest evaluation of how serious problems are. This gives them and their teams the best foundation from which to tackle problems.

2. Being Approachable

When things go awry, it is not the time to hide away behind a locked door or take a vacation. Leaders must be available and approachable. Often, team members have outstanding ideas for dealing with difficulties. They need their leaders to be available and open to their ideas. Unapproachable leaders can paralyze teams with indecision and fear, making problems and challenges worse than they should be.

3. Being Transparent

Transparency is always important in leadership, but perhaps it is never more important than during challenging times. When teams believe their leader is keeping things from them, not only are they less motivated to tackle problems, they’re more likely to fall prey to rumors and gossip. And if you want to make problems worse, gossip and rumors are two of the best ways to do that.

4. Encouraging and Listening to Feedback

Great leaders give constructive feedback. They accept feedback too. When teams deal with difficulties, they may need to deliver important information to their leader and deliver it now rather than later. Leaders who demonstrate that they’re open to feedback instantly relax tensions and encourage collaboration. And collaboration is often the key to surmounting big obstacles.

5. Accepting Occasional Failure (without Accepting Incompetence)

Taking calculated risks, doing our best, and sometimes failing is acceptable. It’s incompetence that is unacceptable.

Sometimes things fail. People may give their best efforts and have every reason to believe they will succeed, but for whatever reason, things just fall apart. Outstanding leaders accept that failure is occasionally inevitable. But they must make it clear that while occasional failure is part of doing business and moving forward, incompetence is not acceptable. Everyone on the team must be willing to know their strengths and gifts and use them appropriately.

6. Avoidance of Micromanaging

Sometimes it’s easier to micromanage than to empower. And during difficult times, the temptation to micromanage can be great. A leader may think, “I’ll manage every step, just until this storm passes.” But giving in to the temptation to micromanage can set teams back and damage morale. The best leaders know how to empower people to solve problems and know that the end results are better than when they dictate every step.

7. Recognition of Excellence

Perhaps no times benefit more from enthusiastic recognition of excellence than challenging times. The need to call out solid accomplishments and breakthroughs can easily slip by the wayside when a team is enduring hard times. But great leaders know that recognition of excellence is often just the thing to breathe life back into a team that is struggling in the short term.

8. Modeling of Good Behavior

Leaders should always model moral and ethical behavior. But in particular, they should demonstrate personal excellence during times of crisis. Teams look to their leaders for inspiration and for the tone they set, and they need to see a model of excellence when they face difficulties. Cutting corners or leaving a struggling team behind on a sunny afternoon to go play golf can quash initiative and motivation in an instant.

Many of my leadership coaching clients have these leadership qualities in great abundance. But they may not realize just how critical it is that they demonstrate them during challenging times. Leading during a crisis is hard. But leaders who manage to do so with skill, commitment, and optimism are the leaders who are destined for greatness. If you are interested in exploring excellence in leadership, I encourage you to find out more about my leadership coaching services.


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