Nobody has a Midas touch. Even successful leaders and great teams have bad days. That is just the way it works. Sometimes things go wrong because of unforeseeable circumstances and sometimes things happen because someone in the team made a mistake.
Whatever the reason, the extent of the negative impact caused by such bad times is heavily influenced by how the leaders reacts to what happened. Successful leaders know that their team members places a lot of importance on what they say during testing times. They also know that team members place an even higher level of importance on how leaders say what they say – their body language, level of stress, tone of voice and other subtle cues mean a lot.
Here are three things successful leaders keep in mind during such situations:
1. Successful leaders know they have to bring calm and confidence
When things go wrong, not everyone reacts the same. Those that lose their calm or those that panic can set a bad precedent for those that are on the edge. When issues are left unaddressed, a team can tend to focus on the negative – so much so, that the project comes to a standstill.
Successful leaders arrest the slide quickly by bringing calm and confidence to the team.
With their experience, they can make a quick impact analysis of the damage. Since they have the trust of team members with influence, they bring the group together and get their buy-in on the next immediate steps. Once the core team members are calm and confident the rest of the team follows suit.
For more information about presenting a calm and confident manner, see this article.
2. Successful leaders know to shift the focus on what’s next
When things go wrong, spending an unreasonable amount of time on forensic analysis is time unproductively spent- the team could be focused on recovering from the problem. Every minute counts. Good leaders know that if they let things get out of hand, they will turn the issue into a bigger crisis as projects that depended on the current problematic project being completed start to slip.
Successful leaders know that the right thing to do is to focus on what to do next, using whatever resources are available at their disposal.
Analysis needs to be done in parallel with this action, or postponed to a time after the current project is back on track.
3. Successful leaders bring their learning from these experiences to future projects
Failures, crises, mishaps and other such events, teach a lot of lessons. Leaders know that it’s easy to blame someone or something else and move on. That would be a colossal waste, of course. Successful leaders reflect on what happened, what lessons are to be learned from what happened and how not to repeat the same mistakes next time around.
Even when things went wrong due to things outside of their control, they think about how to factor in such risks and account for them in their planning for future projects.
4. Successful leaders remember to refine their assumptions next time around
One of the major below-the-surface reasons for things going wrong is the presence of faulty assumptions to start with. Either the leader or an influential team member made one or more assumptions that didn’t turn out the way they wished.
When things go wrong, successful leaders go back to the drawing board and think about what assumptions were made and why they turned out to be faulty. Revisiting the assumptions will help them to refine their judgments when they are working on future projects.
A rising tide lifts every boat. When things are going well, even mediocre leaders can come across as rock stars. When things go wrong, every leader gets tested and the successful leaders stand out from the pack based on how they react and get their teams back on track.
Featured photo credit: Steve Wilson via flickr.com