Some Last-Minute Leadership Advice
An inevitability in business is that last minute things come up. There are cancelled appointments, emergency crises, urgent needs, and so on, that create disruption to everyone.
There are two types of distractions that cause these situations. One is external issues not organic to you, your team, or your company. These can be managed in some ways both before and after the instance but you are not ultimately in control of them.
The second, and yet just as frequent, cause of last minute issues is internal. These are quite simply self-inflicted situations that morph from a small challenge into a major crisis that ultimately involves many others.
The most common reasons for internal last-minute or late-game crises are:
- You failed to plan properly
- You expect someone else to bail you out, usually because it’s their job in some capacity
- You allowed other items to trump this eventual priority, or you didn’t give it it’s proper place in your day
- You forgot
- You allowed your eyes to be taken off your leadership ball and didn’t notice this situation being created
So here is some “last-minute” leadership advice to help you become better at managing and mitigating these events:
- Take time to plan. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Taking even a few brief moments each day to check your entire week’s and month’s schedule (not just the current day) will help keep those deadlines and projects in mind and you will subconsciously be working on them.
- Delegate. If you can’t do it all, have your team do it all. This builds productivity, skills, synergy, trust, and even careers. Make the time to train someone when you can, but if it falls short, then delegate to your best person to see the task through.
- Have realistic expectations of everyone’s responsibilities. Know everyone you interact with – your team, support and executive staff, vendors, business partners, customers – and understand their role in each situation. If a late-game demand is needed, make sure you work with these people to find a resolution, and stay away from demands to specific actions to be done. If you dropped the ball, admit it and ask those involved what they can do and what they need from you to correct the issue.
- Keep calm and do NOT escalate. Once the event becomes known, many people have a tendency to escalate the situation due to fear, embarrassment, anger, or the extra efforts needed to correct. Do not resort to embellishing the situation, shifting blame, or putting a higher urgency on the event than is necessary. Many times after an issue is resolved there is a feeling from others of being manipulated due to “the sky is falling” reaction. Make the situation as important as it needs to be, and keep it in it’s proper perspective.
- Be mindful of your role as the leader. When you make a mistake, own it, work hard to fix it with as minimal impact on others, and do what you can to alleviate the anxiety the event is causing or can cause. Some of the most effective leaders will joke during these situations and assure everyone things will work out just fine. How you lead in the next crises, and how your people will trust you to lead then, will be based on how you handle the current one. Lead, learn, laugh, and let your people see you rise above the situation.
Determine today to minimize the internal late-game disruptions. But lead like a champion when they do happen and develop yourself and your team in the process.
Have a last-minute leadership story to tell? Let me know below!