Leadership in Times of Uncertainty

During the past thirty days Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac imploded, AIG nearly imploded, and Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers ceased to exist. All of this on top of the housing crisis, the credit crunch and a three billion dollar state budget shortfall. While we can’t change what’s happened or control how the markets may continue to gyrate there is much that can be learned from our current situation.

My take on what’s been happening confirms that leadership, vision and integrity are not mere placards. They are in fact and will remain foundational to meaningful and extended personal, professional and organizational success. In this article I briefly discuss leadership. Specifically I present five practices that every business owner and every business leader should demonstrate. These five practices when consistently performed can distinguish and propel a business even in uncertain times. The five practices are: challenging the process, inspiring a shared vision, enabling others to act, modeling the way and encouraging the heart.

These five practices are identified by James Kouzes and Barry Posner as those that are commitments of exemplary leaders. In their book, The Leadership Challenge, Kouzes and Posner define and describe each practice. For example, challenging the process refers to the practice of taking risks and leading in the face of obstacles. Inspiring a shared vision occurs when business owners and business executives integrate the dreams and goals of their employees into those of the organization. Enabling others to act refers to empowering others by building relationships based on trust and confidence. Modeling the way is simply setting an example by what one does. Encouraging the heart occurs when owners and executive recognize individual efforts and celebrate accomplishments.

These five practices may be easier to demonstrate when revenues are growing and profits are increasing and everyone is happy. I would argue that during uncertain times they are even more important to practice. I would further argue that demonstrating these practices during uncertain times can distinguish you among the pack as an exemplary leader and business.

JC Cancelleri is a business strategist and consultant. JC’s value as a business professional is augmented by being a lawyer, life coach and by having a PhD in Organizational Leadership.

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JC Cancelleri

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Ref: James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner. (1995) The Leadership Challenge. Jossey-Bass: San Francisco.