Tough Times Call For Smart And Empathetic Leaders

Tough Times Call For Smart And Empathetic Leaders

During tough times, leaders need to step up. Your boss can make all the difference. When circumstances look dire, you want to be working for someone confident, who remains positive in the face of adversity, is empathetic to your concerns and has a game plan to navigate through treacherous waters.
6 Junio 2022

The Euphoria Has Switched To Fear

Over the last year, both novice and experienced investors bought stocks, bonds, bitcoin, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and other cryptocurrencies with an almost reckless abandon, out of believing that the securities markets only go up and the fear of missing out on the rally that temporarily made many people more wealthy.

However, the tides have changed. Nothing goes up in a straight line forever. The United States is at the beginning of what may be a new recessionary environment, accompanied by runaway inflation and upward price pressure on everything from food to fuel.

The stock and crypto markets are plummeting. There is real fear and near panic in the financial markets over how low prices will fall. The gains of the pandemic euphoria have evaporated within weeks. Venture capital funding may dry up. Stratospheric valuations of unicorn private startups may fall back down to earth.

Now Is The Time For Strong, Smart Leadership

You want to have a manager who can help lead during challenging times. If not, you may want to switch jobs. Here are some of the things you want to see in your manager.

In response to the sudden changes, companies will need to conserve resources, as they are not sure how long this new era of calibrating risk and securities prices and balancing the impact of runaway inflation and a likely recession. New product lines may be halted. Investments in new initiatives may be cut. After a huge hiring spree, business leaders will now need to consider whether they should curb hiring and commence downsizings.

Experienced executives will recognize the pattern. The U.S. is moving from euphoria to fear and panic. They’ve seen this before in the dotcom bubble and burst in the 1990s, the aftermath of Sept. 11, the financial crisis and the initial shock at the start of the virus outbreak. Smart leaders understand that we are now in dire straits with a stock market plummeting and there is an existential risk of another World War. There are legitimate concerns over what is going to happen to the job market and economy. It's reasonable to conclude that the U.S. is in for a bumpy ride.

Psychological Safety

A measure of someone’s character is how they react under pressure. When things go awry, the flaws of managers are exposed. An important mindset and policy that empowers workers in tough times is when bosses offer psychological safety. This is the concept of providing the room and freedom to make their own decisions, and if they don’t work out well, the manager doesn’t hold anything against you. They understand that you tried your best, but the project didn't work out the way everyone would have hoped for. As long as you didn't do anything bad on purpose, you learned from the experience and will perform better in the future.

If your manager is quick to assign blame or scolds you in front of other workers, you know they aren’t the right person to lead the team. Everyone will be afraid to take chances. They’ll live in fear of being yelled at or punished for a simple misstep. This is the time to move on.

The Boss Becomes An Unstable Bully

As revenues and profits decline, managers may panic. When this happens, they won’t act rationally and will enact policies out of fear. Take the pulse of the management and executive team at your company. Watch closely what they are doing. Is their first instinct to fire and furlough people to save money and their own jobs? If so, that is a big red flag waving. This shows that the bosses are more concerned about their own career survival and not interested in the fates of their staff.

Just like in your personal life, you’ve all seen people change when confronted with difficult changes in circumstances. It's the same at the office. The stress and worry get to be too much for some leaders and they end up unleashing their pent-up fear onto the workers.

This is demonstrated when a boss yells at and verbally abuses people in front of their peers, overreacts to a minor mistake or blames a person instead of owning up to the fact that it's the manager’s fault. The supervisor may become a micromanager and overbearing in their demands. They may start pressuring people to work longer hours, revoke work-from-home privileges, cut compensation and indiscriminately lay off people. The promised raise, promotion and bonus are ignored. These and related actions create a toxic culture of fear and anxiety.

It makes it incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to do your job with all of the tension in the air. These are signs that you should consider looking for a job elsewhere, as the situation will likely disintegrate further as time goes on.

How To Spot A Strong, Confident Leader

In a time of crisis, you want your boss to be on your side. They should offer words of encouragement. Their door is always open to holding a conversation. They’ll reach out to their team individually to gain a sense of how they are holding up and ask what they—and the company—can do to make your life easier and better.

A confident leader will lead by example. They’ll acknowledge the challenges that need to be dealt with and offer a plan of action. A confident manager won’t complain, point fingers or denigrate anyone. A solid supervisor will take responsibility—good or bad. You want a manager and executive team that tells the truth, even when it’s not pretty. They will share a clear vision to get through this time and continually readjust, as things change. Your boss should admit when they make a mistake, regularly show appreciation and gratitude to the team and ask for input and feedback.

If you love your job and want to stay at the company, but feel that your manager isn’t handling the tough times well, you may want to schedule a meeting with them. Alternatively, if that option feels uncomfortable, get in touch with human resources or a more senior executive to help ameliorate the situation.

There may come a point in time that nothing is changing and the boss is only getting more tyrannical. When this occurs, you may start considering seeking employment elsewhere for both your mental health and career progression.

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