Leadership pipeline

How To Lead Well When Things Go Wrong

How do you react when things go wrong? Does it make you a bad leader if you have that awful feeling of dread and freeze just for a brief moment?

The truth is that something is going to go wrong eventually, no matter how good your leadership skills are, so what can you do to prepare yourself and make that inevitable occasion a minor blip that you handle like a pro.

No matter the cause of things going wrong, having a trusting team by your side will help. They need to see you are equally up to the job in good times as bad if you are to succeed.

Even if things go wrong due to your bad decisions, a hiccup in plans or someone else’s failure, your leadership skills and how you act to get yourself and your team out of it will be what you are ultimately judged on.

Stay calm and positive

While it is easy to be flustered and negative, attempting to isolate who is to blame for what went wrong will not help in any way to put it right. There’s time for investigations after you are back on track. If you stay calm and positive, those around you are likely to follow and find it easier to think and focus on solutions and fixing things. A great leader will bring out self-confidence in others, only if they handle problems well.

Try –  you have to do something

You must do something. Inaction will only make things worse. You may even find that things you have tried before may work this time if you really are out of any other option. It is not bad leadership to enlist the help of others. They may see things differently and harbour the solution, a good leader will listen and not be afraid to ask. As they say, ‘the only stupid question is the one never asked’.

Be prepared to try and keep looking forward

Focus on your required outcomes and see the obstacles you face as opportunities to learn. This involve taking risks you otherwise wouldn’t or a leap into the unknown. Think outside the box and get help before it’s too late.

Be honest

You will only gain respect if you are honest. If you have made a mistake, it is better to admit it than to hide behind a story that generally is either found out or never believed in the first place. Admit to yourself, accept and move on, then be honest with those affected or whose help you require to put things right. Now is the time for you to shine in fixing it. Getting hung up on failure will harm both thinking and progress. You miss learning opportunities that could help you succeed if you never fail, as often we learn the most by fixing things that went wrong.

Believe in yourself

For others to believe in you as a leader, you must believe in yourself and be prepared when challenged to stand up for your choices. Persistence always wins, always keep heading towards your end goal. 

If you still struggle when things go wrong or would benefit from honing your leadership skills in general, it is always a good idea to consider professional business training.

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