My last airplane trip was March 12th. The next day—Friday the 13th—the U.S. government issued a proclamation declaring a national emergency. That was 111 days ago.
COVID-19 and the social unrest occurring globally has—depending on your perspective—either forced you or inspired you to make tough decisions. “Nothing in life is to be feared; it is only to be understood,” said Marie Curie. “Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less. Never be overcome by people or events.”
More than 300 years ago, Samuel Johnson said, “People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.” Please consider these 10 reminders while leading through these challenging times.
Love. Love your neighbor as yourself. Less judgment, more grace. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness,” said Martin Luther King. “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Mindset. Faced with adversity, we get to choose: We can ignore it, belittle it, or complain about the hand we’ve been dealt. Or we can choose to step up and play the hand to the best of our ability. “Everything,” said Viktor Frankl, “can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Principles. Your mettle as a leader is not truly tested until your principles are tested. Principles aren’t principles until they have the potential to cost you something. Money. Power. Position. Lives. Reputation. “Nearly all men can stand adversity,” said Abraham Lincoln, “but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.
Goals. What’s harder than getting what you want? Knowing what you want. Download this free one-page goal-setting template: The 7 Fs. “If you want to be happy,” said Andrew Carnegie, “set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hopes.”
Strengths. When you understand your strengths (and admit your weaknesses), you’ll know who you need around you. Periods of adversity separate contenders from pretenders. Where is an upgrade required? “I know I have but the body of a weak and feeble woman,” said Queen Elizabeth I, “but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too.”
Plan. If you don’t plan to change, don’t bother to plan. What changes are you implementing? “In preparing for battle,” said Dwight Eisenhower, “I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
Feedback. All leaders need a person who is capable of listening, supporting and coaching…and knowing when each is required. Who’s yours? “Feedback,” said Ken Blanchard, “is the breakfast of champions.”
Act. Failure to decide is a decision to do nothing. A decision without action is pointless. What difficult decision have you postponed? What are you waiting for? “In any moment of decision,” said Theodore Roosevelt, “the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”
Communicate. Perhaps one of the most important reminders for leaders is to communicate. Savvy leaders understand the importance of communicating effectively. Your words—and, importantly, your actions—make the difference between enthusiastic support and half-hearted action “The difference between mere management and leadership,” said Winston Churchill, “is communication.”
Adapt. Tastes change. Habits evolve. New expectations develop. You and your organization must adapt. “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent,” wrote Charles Darwin, “it is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
In the summer of 1967, The Beatles performed a song on the world’s first live global television link that was seen by an audience of more than 400 million people in 25 countries. John Lennon’s lyrics remind us: “All you need is love.”
About the Author: Greg Bustin advises some of the world’s most admired companies and leaders, and he’s dedicated a career to working with CEOs and the leadership teams of hundreds of companies in a range of industries. He’s facilitated more than 200 strategic planning sessions, he’s delivered more than 500 keynotes and workshops on five continents, and he coaches leaders inspired to take their career to the next level. His fourth leadership book—Accountability: The Key to Driving a High-Performance Culture (McGraw-Hill) — is a Soundview Executive Best Business Book.