This title seems like an obvious thought, but in reality, small business owners tend to freeze and stop leading when business is bad. Or worse, over-correct and create a self-fulfilled implosion prophecy on themselves and their team.
Anyone can lead in good times. When it really counts, true leaders rise when times are tough.
What does leading in difficult times look like?
Showing Up Consistently
Our first instinct when things aren’t going well is to stick our head under the covers. Maybe when I wake up things will be better. Unfortunately in small businesses, the team tends to follow the leader. If you stay in bed, soon half your team may stop showing up.
As a leader your team is looking to you to know that everything is all right. Even when things aren’t, people stay calm if the leader is calm. It is sort of like parenting. When things aren’t going well, we don’t share all of our problems with our 6 and 9 year old. We know they look to us to know their world is okay.
Your team looks to you for the same.
Be Fully Present and Proactive While Leading
Obviously we need to do more than just show up to turn our business toward success. So, although showing up is important, we need to show up in body, mind and spirit. We need to be focused on the realities in the business and working with our team to shift our business back on a positive path.
Unlike with our kids, we have hired our team to be a part of the solution. We do need to engage them in the issues and the process so together you can come up with plans and solutions.
Although you don’t have to have all of the answers, you do have to lead your team in working toward the solutions. Challenge them for ideas on how to improve processes, work more efficiently, enhance the customer experience, introduce new products and services, and grow the bottom-line.
Sometimes we feel like it is better to say nothing if things aren’t going well. But think about it…people know when things aren’t good. Whether they know the facts or whether they let their imagination run away with things, they will start to form beliefs and opinions.
Reality is often better than others’ imagination, and if you get a team starting to share their own creative versions of what is really happening, well then you can make a bad situation worse.
It is up to you, the leader, to bring stability and confidence to your team. Confidence that you all can work together to turn things around.
- Be open.
- Be calm.
- Be clear.
- Be honest.
You can be honest without creating excessive worry. The way this works is by assuring everyone that you are actively going to work with them on solutions and then to show up consistently yourself.
Look to God for His Direction
These aren’t necessarily in priority order, however, I have found that God usually wants me to show up and invite Him into my world. He wants us to pray and to depend on Him. He also, I believe, wants us to show up.
Jesus has an amazing way of giving us peace, even when things are hard. And if we will follow, He is always leading us toward His will for us.
Peace will certainly help with all of the above.
The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. When things are bad, God never stops leading us. He always shows up, and is active in our lives. And He communicates! The question sometimes is… are we listening?