Leading Through a Distraction

What are the keys to leading an organization when it's facing severe outside distractions? Here are five lessons that Hewlett-Packard CEO Carleton S. Fiorina gave the Wall Street Journal in a recent interview:

1. Have a strategic vision and a peripheral vision, so you can look ahead and look around.
2. Be proactive in communicating constantly with employees through face-to-face meetings, Webcasts, e-mails and voice mails.
3. Be flexible. Stuff happens.
4. Build a strong team. Success is always derived from the right people and teamwork.
5. Trust that you know more about your business than observers or critics.

Making the Cut(s)

All leaders face difficult decisions, but the most difficult often are the ones that come on a personal level with another person - like making cutbacks because of mergers, cutbacks or restructuring. According to Michael Wakefield of the Center for Creative Leadership, effectively leading in such times requires significant emotional competence.

"First, leaders should tell their people the facts as early as possible - recognizing that people's anxiety levels will skyrocket and some of your best people may jump ship," Wakefield says in CCL's January newsletter. "Withholding information, in the spirit of being kind and sparing people anxiety, indicates a lack of respect for people's ability to handle reality."

"Second, leaders need to be authentic. In other words, don't simply play a role. Lead from your own experience, emotions and empathy."

CCL's tips for leading in tough times:

* Become self-aware
* Hone interpersonal skills
* Demonstrate emotional maturity
* Be genuine, authentic, open

This article is used by permission from Dr. John C. Maxwell's free monthly e-newsletter 'Leadership Wired' available at www.MaximumImpact.com.