Three Pillars of
Strength to Help
Leaders in Tough Times
By Joelle Jay,
In the current economic climate, where businesses are
merging, downsizing, and outsourcing at mind-boggling rates, it’s
hard to maintain your leadership equilibrium. To keep from getting
knocked off your feet, you need to have something stable to hold
onto – something that will keep you on steady ground when all around
you is shaking and/or crumbling.
Unfortunately, most people don’t deal with change in a
positive way. They become overwhelmed; and instead of taking care of
themselves so they can withstand the daily onslaught of change, they
try to prove their worth by working longer and harder so they’re not
the next one escorted out the door. As a result, they’re not only
stressed from the current situation, but they’re also tired,
disengaged, and dissatisfied with both their professional and
What these leaders need to realize is that doing extra work,
staying late, and taking on more responsibilities will not keep you
strong. It’s time to upgrade that way of thinking. You don’t just
need to work hard. It serves no one for you to stay at work at all
hours, eking out shoddy deliverables through squinty eyes, powered
by fast food and triple lattes. “Getting ahead” has less to do with
time and effort than it does thoughtful, reflective consideration:
the kind of “inner work” that allows you to choose who and how you
want to be, and enables you to work in a way that supports your
In fact, when you do this kind of inner work, your external
circumstances no longer matter. Because you have a strong sense of
self, a strong character, and a strong internal support system, you
can weather any storm. If you’re ready to start this inner work –
the kind that will help you reaffirm your leadership edge – then
start with the following three pillars of strength.
Your vision, your goals, and your actions don’t automatically lead
to fulfillment. No matter how good you are or how successful you
become, your accomplishments will feel meaningless if they’re not
congruent with the values in your heart. When you clarify the values
that guide your life, define the specific ways they enhance your
experience, and learn to live in integrity with those values, you
are able to find a renewed sense of purpose and joy. That’s when
your happiness and stability become a choice rather than an
achievement. To begin to reconnect with your values, answer the
What do you
really stand for?
honoring those things?
important to you?
Are your values
in alignment with what your organization values?
When your values
drive your everyday activities, every day feels like a success, no
matter what’s going on around you.
In order to excel, you need to build on
your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. This idea was
popularized by “the father of strengths psychology,” Dr. Donald
Clifton. His research touched off what is now known as the
“strengths movement” – a groundbreaking way of thinking that
capitalizes on strengths to help people grow.
Using this approach, in order to be your best, you maximize your
strengths and manage your weaknesses. By doing so, you are
emphasizing the elements of you that are enduring and unique. When
you develop an approach to leadership that uses all of your
attributes in the most advantageous way, you save time, energy and
effort. You get better results, because you are doing things in the
way that works best for you. You discover what it truly means to
achieve success with quality of life, because they become one and
the same. Best of all, you do this not by changing who you are, but
by becoming more of who you are.
So ask yourself the
Where are you
What do you do
without even thinking?
What do people
count on you for?
would you gladly never have to do again?
Are you doing
the things you do really well so you can contribute your most to
your organization or to the endeavors you take on?
Remember, you need to go beyond just getting the tasks done,
as that doesn’t serve anyone, especially in today’s market. Rather,
you need to use your strengths to stay on top. The companies that
survive aren’t the ones who just get tasks done. They figure out
what they do well and then they do it. To stay successful, you need
to do the same.
Your support team:
Building your support team means
identifying the people in your life who are smart, experienced,
insightful, perceptive, challenging, and inspirational, and then
asking them to support you in your success. This team is probably
not the team you already have in place. We’re not talking about your
assistant, your employees or your vendors. These people help you get
your work done; they exist for the betterment of the business.
The support team you want in place is one who can help you reach
your vision and goals; this support team exists for the betterment
of you. This distinction is subtle but key. Your team is made
up of leadership all-stars: your role models, mentors, and
inspirations. As members of your personal support team, these people
are committed to you no matter what your vision, where you work, or
what goals you choose. They advise you, support you, advance you,
and elevate you.
When thinking about your support team, ask yourself the
Who will you
ask to be a part of your support team?
How will you
maintain the relationship?
When times get
tough, are you able to reach out to your team?
Are you there
for your team to reciprocate?
While you definitely need team members who are committed to the
day-to-day work, you also need people who are devoted to you: to
your success, your decisions and your vision. After all, when the
ground beneath you starts to shift, you can either run and hide or
you can reach out to others for support. Smart leaders choose the
in business in inevitable. Sometimes the changes are subtle, and
other times they’re downright scary. However, no matter what happens
in your external world, if your internal world is in order – if
you’ve developed your values, your strengths, and your support team
– then whatever happens externally won’t cause you to lose your
footing. So if you’ve neglected the inner aspects that make you
successful, now is the time to refocus your energy and build your
inner resolve. By doing so, you’ll be able to weather the economy’s
ups and downs unscathed…and prosper for many years to come.
Read other articles and learn more about
Joelle Jay, Ph.D.
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