“I may need to fire 300 people…
some are my friends… and some I’ve been working with for years…”
Tough decision! Major consequences keeping us awake at night.
So far seem the days when leadership was about celebrating with champagne in business class travel to glittering seminars in luxury hotels.
How do global leaders best navigate through rough times?
Where do they find their Northern star?
Leaders grow their humility
Any decision highly depends on the quality of information available and the context that prevails on top of the intrinsic qualities of the leader. What seems a wise move can prove utmost irrelevant later on or in a different context.
When the European Central Bank was created, European states agreed that independence was paramount for central banks, hence no political interference. Yet, a decade later while in financial crisis, central banks injected massive amounts of money into the banking system, supporting the political requests of a bail-out. Maybe, independence was not so paramount.
While leaders are responsible for their decision forever, they only can attempt to make the best decision at a given time in a given context with a given set of information. They also humbly acknowledge that consequences and circumstances may go beyond their control.
Leaders grow their self-love
As much as we love to think we will eternally stay in the loving memories of all people who worked with us, we also know that leadership goes along with unpopular decisions.
And depending on our perspective, the same wise decision could end us loving or hating the leader responsible for this decision.
Kamikaze, the young Japanese officers who sacrificed their lives for the glory of their country could be seen as a supreme example of loyalty and courage. As well as a convincing example that violence can easily escalate, even to massive nuclear bomb victims. Shall we hate or love them or both?
When it comes to a tough decision, a leader needs to hear others’ opinions as each will bring a different perspective he may not have considered. Yet, whatever the final decision is – popular or not – a leader still needs to feel that he’s worth of esteem, respect and love.
Hence, leaders grow ways to love themselves and bare with criticism.
Leaders grow their ethics
What makes firing 300 people a good or a bad decision? Purpose and values.
And here we are not talking about politically correct values written in huge capital letters everywhere on the company walls that nobody hardly notices anymore.
We are talking about values that we personally stand for when the strom rages.
If firing 300 people helps to focus on growing a core business that keeps generating profits and employment opportunities, then purpose could be sustainability Values could be growth, efficiency, legacy, development. As long as we agree with these values and purpose, the consequences would be seen as fair however unpleasant.
If firing 300 people helps to recruit 400 people at a much cheaper price, then purpose could be short-term profit. Values could be hard to discern and clouded by greed.
When values are too hard to discern, when decisions look inconsistent with the officially claimed values, when the purpose drifts away from ethics, leaders feel torn as their personal values no longer match the reality of their work, nor does the purpose fit their own ultimate vision.
Tough times are true opportunities to reveal intrinsic leadership.
A leader going against ethics is ruining both his/her reputation and self-respect straight away.
A leader going against ethics is offering an opportunity for subsequent requests of unethical behaviours with no more reasons to decline.
Leaders find ways to influence others so their personal ethics get respected or grow their ethics even stronger.
Leaders grow their support system
The higher we climb the hierarchical level, the more ambiguity we face and the wider the consequences of our decisions. Navigating through the grey areas requires a reliable information gathering system, a strong set of personal ethics, values, purpose, self-acceptance and self-esteem yet that does not suffice.
Tough decisions consume massive energy, as they need a whole set of analytical, rational and emotional skills as well. Hence, leaders need to recharge, to rely on others and surrender.
What support can leaders get?
- a robust faith: leaders nurturing their faith know when to surrender and trust, when to pray to grow unconditional love and find courage to pursue according to their ethics
- a Jedi council: trusted mentors, friends and advisors from all walks of life that have nothing but the leaders’ best interest in mind, bringing new perspectives and confidence
- a leadership coach: professional to whom leaders can confide, deepening the reflection to clarify personal values and purpose, shaping strategies to cope and recharging to brave storms with enhanced conviction, serenity and sense
Global Leaders can find their own Northern star to guide them through rough times. That helps to sleep peacefully and see themselves in the mirror as worth respect, sometimes even admiration and love.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marianne Dupuis, executive & leadership coach is an international success catalyst. She has guided more than 600 people towards lasting success in leading across cultures. This success comes from her ability to connect with leaders all over the world, to joyfully embrace cultural diversity and systematically leverage on human potential. Pragmatic and direct, simple and flexible, committed and caring are all ways people describe her. Yet, do not only trust them, just meet Marianne and test how her programs make a lasting difference for you too.