Stand Out In Tough Times

March 18, 2009
The City Paper


Tough economic times can be your time of opportunity.  During tough times, organizations need effective leadership.  You may have the title that makes you a leader, or you may simply be a leader amongst your peers.  Regardless, this can be your time to shine.

You can choose the “ostrich route” by being scared and sticking your head in the sand, hoping for the storm to pass, or you can “step up” like never before. Ask yourself “What do I have to lose by accelerating my efforts at everything that can possibly help my company survive and excel?”

Assert yourself with enthusiastic support for your boss and the mission of your organization. Now is the opportunity to present your constructive ideas because your organization is probably more open than ever to finding new and better ways of doing business.  You can contribute by being supportive of change. You can help morale by showing compassion and support for your fellow team members. Right now, you have everything to gain from being a “contributor.” 

Volunteer for “special assignments,” particularly the really tough ones. Your boss is under more stress than usual and anything you can do to relieve that stress is good for you and your fellow team members.  There is also a good possibility that a “special assignment” can lead to further responsibility and even recognition for going above and beyond.  In these tough times, your boss will respect more than ever, those who step up to help.

Be visible.  Human nature leads us to lay low and keep our heads down when business is slow but the opposite is your best path. Move around your workplace, talk to everyone, listen carefully and be positive. Ask open-ended questions. You will be surprised at all of the ideas people have, that have not previously been expressed. Others will respect you for your communication and particularly your positive attitude.

Share information.  Sharing is important during normal times, but it is even more important when times are tough. People perform best when they know the most. Be thorough, honest and right to the point on all communication. Uncertainty can lead to errors, confusion, frustration and even accidents. The more people know, the better they can perform. This is no time to keep secrets.

Recognize every act of good performance.  Whether you are a manager or not, recognition is more important now than ever before. Catch people doing things right.  Make it a point to always look for victories, no matter how small they may seem.   Celebrate every success, acknowledge every win, and encourage new idea contribution. Keeping the team positive and enthusiastic relieves collective stress. You have everything to win and nothing to lose by building the spirits of everyone around you.

Assess your own performance and your contribution to your organization and if it is not up to standard, get it right today. Accelerate your time with the boss, try to differentiate your performance in a positive way and look to contribute constructive, new ideas. While others may be scared of the future this is your time to shine. Ask yourself “What can I do personally to help my organization to do even better in these tough times?”

 
Joe Scarlett is the retired chairman of Tractor Supply Company and the founder of the Scarlett Leadership Institute. He can be reached at 
joe@scarlettleadership.com.

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