What Kind Of Leader Should You Be In Uncertain Times?

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During uncertain times, is  your leadership supposed to be that of an optimist, a pessimist, an idealist, or a realist?

The answer is “yes”…and “no”…and “sometimes”…

The reality is, there are times in an uncertain season when a leader must be a grim-faced pessimist, while in others it requires being a cheery-faced optimist.

How do you know? Here’s a basic guideline to help you navigate this.

A leader must be a PESSIMIST when…

…making financial forecasts in a challenging season.

If the current economic climate has pulled the rug out from under your organization, it’s time for the leader to put on the demeanor of a pessimist.

Perhaps a better word than pessimistic is “cautious”. Any leader who has led a turnaround will tell you that the first step is to stop the bleeding by taking a worst-case scenario approach to budgeting.

A leader must be a REALIST when…

…developing the team.

Leading through the crisis means right-sizing the expectations of each team member. You will need to call out the best from everyone, and you need to know their capacities.

Nothing will crush the spirit of a rising leader quite like giving them too much responsibility too soon. Instead, effective leaders must be realistic when it comes to each one’s potential, and then design their role accordingly.

A leader must be an IDEALIST when…

…casting vision.

Ideals have gone out of fashion in our culture. But in challenging times, effective leaders must embrace the ideals of their organization’s mission and vision and describe them with authentic passion.

Why does the organization exist? What difference will it make in the world? These are the organization’s ideals, and the leader must espouse them eloquently and proudly.

A leader must be an OPTIMIST when…

…building a healthy culture.

When the going gets hard in this season, the team wants to know essentially one thing: “Is all of this work worth it?”

The leader’s job is to remind the team that things are going to get better…That the mission is worth pursuing…and that a better day will come.

Some will tell you that leadership is all about being an eternal optimist. Others will say it’s all about being an idealist. But in this challenging season you must learn when to apply each of these qualities.

Armed with these truths, better days will come for your team. And you can lead them there.

the author

Scott Cochrane

Lifelong learner, practitioner and coach of leadership, across more than 50 countries. Follower of Jesus, husband of Nora, grateful parent and grandparent.

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