Of course it’s easy – things are going well – you have the perfect team, the perfect set of projects, you are flush with cash, your customers are happy – you are potentially on cruise control as your team is doing so well and perhaps looking beyond to other opportunities.
But when the chips are down…
Budgets have been slashed.
Too little resources, way too many projects that need to be delivered yesterday.
Customers aren’t dissatisfied but they are eager for that next release that is a few months behind.
Those are not easy conditions to try to lead through especially when your priorities begin to shift to morale and your team’s well-being.
But they are nothing compared to Shackleton’s Journey – that is leading through adversity and harsh, harsh conditions. That takes strength and commitment to lead in that fashion and I would venture to say are much more stressful conditions then we often find ourselves under in most of our leadership work.
It’s easy to rip into someone when conditions are bad, the deployment has blown up, the customer is mad about the shoddy demo and make them feel like nothing despite having tried their best. It’s a complete other to step back, listen to them, ask them the hard questions of what could have been done better, discuss the scenario and how it could be made better and have faith in one another that both will move forward to make it better.
No one is being let off the hook for bad performance at a bad time, you’re just not hanging them out to dry on the hook in the first place.
For a great book on Shackleton, see Leading at the Edge.