Two weeks ago, a manager held a meeting with one of his employees to discuss work-related issues, but the conversation slowly turned into a staff bashing meeting. Now imagine this, the organization is in turmoil, objectives are not being met, the culture is toxic, no team spirit exists among staff, everyone is busy doing their own thing; what's the solution from the manager, “bad talking” the people in his department and finding fault with everyone and anything in the company but himself.
According to Carey Nieuwhof, the best way to assess the state of someone character is to simply analyze how they responded during their last crisis. It could be a crisis at home, at work, with their family—or any situation. How you respond to a crisis, will tell you exactly where your character is at.
So, how did you react the last time:
- Your kids melted down in the back seat?
- Your spouse got defensive when you suggested some things to do on Saturday?
- Your ideas got shot down at the meeting?
- You showed up Sunday and a key element for the service was missing because someone else messed up?
- Your computer crashed and you lost the last 30 minutes of work?
- You got stuck in the longest line at the grocery store and it made you late for your next meeting?
- You read that email criticizing your leadership?
What did you think?
What did you say?
What did you do?
Boom. There’s the true state of your character.
In fact, nothing reveals the true state of your character better than how you handled your last crisis. There's much more to leadership than having a title and being in charge of a team. You might have the authority to tell people what to do, but if you're an ineffective leader and your character is questionable, you won't be able to guide, influence, inspire and motivate anyone to accomplish anything.
Two years ago, somewhere around October, I was dealing with a crisis situation that challenged my sanity. I always pride myself to be cool and calm under pressure circumstances but this one, wow, tested my mental. One morning, while I was driving my daughter to school, my facial expression change and to be quite honest, I wasn’t even aware, my daughter said “daddy why are you looking so angry” with a pitiful worry look on her face. Her eyes began to swell with tears because she never saw her daddy looked like that before.
At that moment I immediately check myself and I said Gifford, you need to take control of yourself, you cannot allow one challenge to derail you like that. I learned a lesson from that situation, how you react to crisis shows your true character as a leader. During Darwin E. Smith tenure at Kimberly-Clark in 1971, he created a stunning transformation of the company even selling the mills and turning the company into the leading consumer paper products company in the world. The important thing here is this, Smith, the company’s mild-mannered in-house lawyer, never had any alter ego.
According to the Harvard Business Review, Darwin E. Smith was a seemingly ordinary man, shy, unpretentious, even awkward; dressed unfashionably, like a farm boy wearing his first J.C. Penney suit. But if you were to consider Smith soft or meek, you would be terribly mistaken but he stayed true to his character even in very, very difficult times.
The company I referenced above never recovered, it led to blame, finger pointing, this one shouting at this one, no one taking responsibly for anything and this led to a fracturing of the company. Leading people is an awesome responsibility and if you are pretending to be someone you are not, at some point a crisis will bring out the real you and believe me, you will face challenges, in leadership it is inevitable, how you handle it though will ultimately determine your true leadership character.
About Gifford Thomas
I am the founder of Leadership First and the author of The Inspirational Leader, Inspire Your Team To Believe In The Impossible. At Leadership First, we are committed to publishing the very best inspirational leadership quotes and articles to inspire our 250,000+ community of leaders to believe in the impossible, while creating an environment free from toxic, fearful and intimidating leadership. We believe everyone can and should enjoy their work, but it must start with the leadership leading by example. Follow our community of leaders HERE, and let's change the leadership status quo to help inspire and motivate our leaders to make a difference and create an organization their people will love.
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