Miller’s Monday Morning Message

Andrew MillerMiller’s Monday Morning Message
presented by ACM Consulting Inc.

Andrew Miller on operational excellence, strategy, life balance and everything in between

Toronto – February 23, 2015
I recently spoke to a group of senior finance executives from the SGH chapter of FEI Canada. The topic was “How to turn a crisis into an opportunity.” I suggested that adversity and crisis in business is unavoidable, so it’s about how you react when adversity or crisis strikes. Do you view it as an opportunity, or do you shy away and play the victim? Here is the roadmap that I laid out for them.
First you have to identify the issue and its’ root cause. Then you develop a solution to resolve the issue. You then take steps to ensure it never happens again (preventative measures). Finally, you determine what impact you can make on the entire industry so that the same type of issue can be avoided in the future. Throughout the whole situation, you are communicating honestly and transparently, while staying at the forefront of the issue.
Legacies can be made or broken based on how leaders deal with adversity. You need to accumulate leadership currency by acting in a way that makes your employees, customers, shareholders, and business partners believe that you can handle the situation as effectively as possible. Often leaders can use these situations as an opportunity to become closer to customers, achieve new levels of performance, or create more loyal employees.
When you are presented with adversity, do you shy away or do you step forward and say ‘follow me’?
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Developing ‘Leadership Currency’

How a leader handles adversity or a crisis can make or break their legacy. Handle it properly and people will follow. Handle it improperly and people will distance themselves.

Leadership currency is created in the handling of various situations. The better those situations are dealt with, the more leadership currency is accumulated. The reason leadership currency is important is because once some has been accumulated, people will give you the benefit of the doubt when you make a mistake. The more leadership currency you have, the more forgiving people will be when you make a mistake.

And although this may sound counter-intuitive, you can actually accumulate more leadership currency by the way you handle a mistake that you have made.

So how do you accumulate leadership currency?

  1. You are transparent about issues and problems within your organization. You tell the truth about what is happening, what is being done about it, and how long it will take.
  2. You take accountability. You accept blame where appropriate and don’t point fingers at others.
  3. You show leadership. You stay in the forefront and deflect criticism away from your team members and peers. You lead the charge in dealing with broader issues that affect your entire industry.
  4. You show emotion. You show genuine compassion and sympathy for those that have been impacted.
  5. You act decisively. You take action quickly, even if that action is unpopular. The greatest fear is the fear of the unknown, so you need to remove that.

Some examples of leaders who accumulated a great deal of leadership currency during adversity include Michael McCain of Maple Leaf food during the listeria crisis, Rudy Giuliani after 9/11, and Lou Gerstner when he first took over at IBM.

What are you doing to build up your leadership currency?