Solution Saturday: Facing Turbulence

Hi *Mark,

I’m writing to encourage you to lead with your heart as well as your head during turbulent times.

I’ve been thinking about your relationship with your board. In one sense, it’s about who you aspire to become. In another, it’s about them.

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3 big questions:

  1. How do you want your board to feel about you?
  2. How do you want your board to feel about themselves?
  3. How do you want your board to feel about the organization you lead?

The neglected questions of leadership concern emotion, especially during turbulance.

Even bigger:

The bigger question, after describing how you want them to feel, is what will you do about it? Be specific. Turbulence is not time for ambiguity.

Attitudes, words, behaviors, plans:

What attitudes can you adopt, words can you say, and behaviors can you employ to lead them into desirable emotional states. Don’t forget to craft an agenda that assists the process. What might you do to celebrate successes with your board, for example?

  1. Don’t pretend things are easy when they’re tough. Pretending makes you look out of touch.
  2. Focus more on direction, goals, and solutions. Most teams spend way too much time circling problems.
  3. Move the conversation forward without cutting people off. Don’t beat dead horses. “What’s next?”

Brain and heart:

The challenge during turbulence is we neglect our hearts and rely too heavily on our brains.

Leading with the brain is giving reasons and offering solutions. In this sense, solving problems centers on making something go away.

Evaluate the words you have recently said. What emotions do your words invite? Are you calling for trust, enthusiasm, compassion, and curiosity, or fear, doubt, anxiety, and dread?

Think of the words you plan to speak and the posture you plan to adopt. What role is your heart playing? Turbulence is no place to ad lib.

Stress and heart:

Stress limits thinking and closes hearts.

How might you calm your spirit and include heart in your approach to leading through this challenging opportunity?

You possess both compassion and drive. How might you keep those two qualities close to each other as you navigate this turbulence? You have an opportunity to let your best and richest self be seen.

  1. Keep the big picture in mind, even when digging into details. More important, keep the big picture in front of everyone around the table. Remind everyone about purpose, mission, and vision.
  2. Make people feel respected and important. People who feel respected are less likely to disrespect you.
  3. Clearly declare what you want early in conversations. Don’t make people wonder what you’re after.
  4. Provide time to consider options. Don’t feel pressure to make hasty decisions, if there’s time for reflection.
  5. Sit on the side of the table, not at the head.
  6. Explore suggestions, even if at first you disagree. Make people feel heard. Don’t agree or disagree. Dig into assumptions.
  7. Invite input from quiet members. Don’t allow talkers to dominate meetings.
  8. Have one-on-ones with influential members.
  9. Be honest about the situation and transparent about your expectations. Stay forward facing. The past can’t be changed. “Where does that suggestion take us as an organization?”
  10. Don’t make decisions when you’re reluctant.
  11. Lead with humility and vision. Humble leaders remain open. Visionary leaders press into the future.
  12. Stay grateful for your opportunity to serve, even when you feel under-appreciated.

What suggestions do you have for dealing with boards and/or bosses when turbulent situations erupt?

*Mark is a fictitious name.

**I relax my 300 word limit on Solution Saturdays.

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