Leadership in tough times

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When I go through rough times, I tend to play it safe. Is that the best way to go?

It's tempting to play it safe in troubled times, but it's not always the best approach.

Playing it safe means you'll only see the surface of anything. To do well in business you need to lift your head out of your business and look at what's ahead. Everyone who runs a business - no matter how large or how small - needs to have vision and commercial acumen.

You can't stop making decisions and in many ways that's what playing it safe means. It doesn't leave an opportunity for other views to come in. Remember when you run a business, you're a leader, and leaders must have courage to make decisions and take risks even in tough times. Be aware of what's happening globally. You need to be aware of how uncertain times around the world can impact all of us.

Do you have the names of any books on leadership?
Try any of these from this list and see what you think:

1. The New Leaders: Transforming the Art of Leadership into the Science of Results by Daniel Goleman; Richard Boyatzis; Annie McKee

2. Working with Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

3. Heart of a Leader by Ken Blanchard

4. Business Leadership: A Jossey-Bass Reader Jossey-Bass Management Systems

5. The Effective Leader: How to Balance Your Mind, Body and Spirit and Work and at Home  by V. Bennett; I. Mathieson

6. Approaching the Corporate Heart: Breaking through to New Horizons of Personal and Professional Success by Margot Cairnes

Are people born to lead?
No-one wakes up one day and says "A leader has been born!" Leadership is an acquired skill as so many other things are. For years many people were promoted to leadership positions because of technical competency. But you can't run a business and be a leader of people on technical skills alone. A leader has to be flexible and capable of doing things different to those they lead. Being good at the technical side is only part of the story.

What might I need to do differently to be a better leader?
A leader has to know who they are and how they operate with others. A leader often has to make decisions that go against the team but in the long run will benefit the team and the business.

A leader must invest time in building trust in those person who are going to do their marketing, financials, logistics and sales. It's wise to put work into all these areas to improve your leadership ability.

Do leaders need to keep changing?
No, they don't need to keep changing but leaders do need to evolve with the times and look at what additional learning they can do.

No matter what your age, when you're in a leadership role, you're a steward in the community with a duty of care to do the right thing by the community.

If you stay grid-locked in your own business and don't expand your learning, you won't grow nor will your business.