Last weekend I made a trip to the local auto parts store and picked up some wiper blades. I replaced the wiper blades on a beautiful sunny day. There was no threat of rain in the forecast. It was perfect day to replace them. The next time it rains I’ll be glad I did.
The perfect time to prepare for leadership storms is before they happen.
Practice impeccable communication
Don’t wait for a conflict. Begin speaking with clarity today. Clarify your commitments, expectations and concerns. It takes practice. Delivering and receiving impeccable communication is a skill that is learned through repetition and reciprocity.
The importance of reliable communication is always heightened in the midst of conflict. When communication is unhealthy or lacking, the information you need in order to solve problems or make decisions is delayed or missing altogether. If open and honest debate is not typical when the seas are smooth, it’s unlikely you will deliver at crunch time.
Accurate information keeps your organizational culture oriented toward solutions. Impeccable communication provides the scaffolding for building trust and a shared understanding about what is mission critical.
Make healthy relationships a priority
The quality of your leadership will depend on the quality of your relationships. At no time is this more apparent than when you encounter significant storms. There are many definitions and facets of great leadership. Most descriptions point to the fact that leaders help advance people and organizations toward a better future. If your relationships are unhealthy your power to inspire others diminishes. You cannot lead positive change if your workplace is plagued by toxic relationships.
Unhealthy relationships cultivate negativity. A negative culture siphons creative energy. Threats and problems are exaggerated and opportunities and strengths are underappreciated.
When teams are dysfunctional, small problems become insurmountable and large problems threaten organizational viability. Team members become more and more isolated. The quality of relationships will determine whether people pull together or fall apart when a crisis hits.
In order to sustain unity around a shared vision you will need to make healthy relationships a priority. Your investment in others creates a safe place. You can provide a storm shelter from the devastating effects of unresolved conflict, whether internal or external. If you truly believe that people matter, your actions will prove it. Your relationships will show it.
Prepare for storms when the sun is shining. Remember, the goal is to prepare for storms before the tempest flares up. Face the facts. If you are like most leaders, it’s likely that procrastination is understandable, attractive and easily justified. You’re really busy. Your schedule is packed. Your discretionary time is very precious. But, putting things off until an inevitable crisis is a nasty habit that will wreak havoc on your communication and relationships.
Procrastination is the enemy of preparation. Impeccable communication and healthy relationships require real time engagement. Begin today.
When advocating for preventative maintenance for your car, most mechanics will make a simple value proposition. What you do today will “extend the life of the vehicle.” As a leader, you are a vehicle of inspiration and vision. Prepare to thrive in the midst of leadership storms and you will extend your influence.