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Thursday, 02 April 2020 11:24

Lessons in Leadership (and Not)

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After thirty years of training and coaching leaders and managers (primarily in industry), I am still amazed and appalled at how often people reply "by learning what NOT to do" when asked how they learned how to manage and lead others at work.

And yet, bad examples abound! I read this morning about a tech unicorn, that laid off almost a third of their staff by calling them to a Zoom conference, and announcing to all those individually invited that they were being laid off in two weeks (there is controversy whether it was acutally a live person or a recording). Suspicions had been aroused by the non-normal, unique features to what had previously been typically a transparent, two-way, regular, 1-2 hour all-hands meeting.

When times call for straight talk, empathy, compassion, a sense of getting through it together, coming out stronger on the other side, making things win-win, staying the course and focused, caring for others, etc. etc. Yes, leaders need to make tough decisions. Yes, business leaders need to steward the business for the long haul. And, yes, leaders need to walk their talk in bad times as well as good times (compare this bad example with Arne Sorenson's all-hands meeting at Marriott regarding Covid-19).

As Peter, Paul, and Mary lamented, "When will they ever learn. . .". Look for good examples, exemplars of your values and principles, see how they apply them in good and bad times, and how they build two-way trusting relationships through authenticity and example. Keep them in your leadership diary for reference and referral. Practice them with your team, ask for feedback, fine tune, repeat, and lock-and-load for now. Keep (watching and) learning!