... 6 Steps To Help Me Lead In Adversity
I was fortunate to attend a talk this week on ‘Leadership in adversity’ by Colonel Tim Collins. He knows a thing or two about this topic as he served in the British Special Forces for much of his career before becoming Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment during the 2003 Gulf War in Iraq.
He talked about a 6 step approach that Field Marshal Sir Gerald Templer used when he was sent by Winston Churchill to defeat the guerilla rebels in Malaya in 1952.
Step 1 – Figure out what people want you to do.
If you don’t have clarity as to what you’re being expected to achieve then how will you ever know when you’ve been successful? This isn’t just about having a corporate vision or strategy, it’s making sure your boss looks you in the eye and tells you clearly what is expected, and you have the opportunity to ask questions to get clarity.
Step 2 – Get the organisation right, changing it if required.
Sometimes you’re asked to do something very different from what has been done before and this may mean that the business isn’t set up to achieve this new aim successfully. You might need to reorganise departments, set up new systems, change people’s responsibilities to get everything in place from the start.
Step 3 – Get the right people into the organisation.
You may be fortunate and already have all the people with the right skill sets in your team to enable you to succeed. However, it’s more likely you will need to move some people out of the team and bring in new people, or ensure that those in your team who don’t have the right skills or attitude get up to speed quickly.
Step 4 – Get the right spirit into your people.
Asking people to do something difficult is never easy. Asking soldiers to go into battle and to kill people or be killed, is probably as hard as it gets. It’s essential as leaders that we motivate our people in the best way for the given situation, so that when things get difficult and we’re not immediately there to offer advice, they will be able to keep pushing towards the goal.
Step 5 – Get your instructions right on a day to day basis.
Too many leaders come into the initial meeting, give the vision and then disappear never to be seen again until it all works out and they reappear to take all the glory! This isn’t about micro-managing but it is making sure that everyone is clear about what they need to be doing, throughout the project and not just at the start.
Step 6 – Let them get on with it.
Easier said than done, but it if the previous 5 steps are all successfully in place then then there is nothing more empowering for a team than to be trusted to get on with it. This doesn’t mean forgetting about them, but it does mean very light touch leadership.
This advice may well be over 150 years old but it still seems to make sense to me today.