Leadership In Difficult Times

September 17, 2012

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I'm Deb- CEO, worldwide executive coach, mentor, consultant and speaker. I'm here to help you take your leadership and impact to the next level!

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 I’ve been thinking recently about difficult times – about 9/11 and the overwhelming sadness and loss we experienced, both as a country and as a family our cousin was a firefighter who gave his life that day.  I think of the state of the country’s economy, and the turmoil around the world.  I think of my dear sister-in-law who suffered the ravages of cancer.

The fact is, if I thought too long about the difficulties, I could get pretty depressed.  And so, while I must acknowledge their existence, I must purposely focus on the positives and on solutions.  In fact, the most difficult times call for the most focus.


I decided to honor folks like our cousin and  sister-in-law by doing what I know they would tell me to do:  fight through the challenges.  And sometimes the enemy – whether it be outside forces or cancer – wins.  But you still have to fight.  In the words of Sir Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never give up.”
So it’s time to focus on where we want to be, not where we are now.


To you single moms out there who are struggling to raise your children amidst your own personal pain, never give up. Paint the vision of the life you want and begin taking steps toward the life you want.


To those of you who are fighting cancer or other life-altering diseases, never give up.


To those who are experiencing the loss of a loved one or loss of a job, never give up.  Do all you can to keep your mind on health and wellness.  Surround youself with beauty and growth in everything you do.


Now, I know it is easier said than done because, well, let’s face it, life can be depleting at times.  But for the sake of those who follow you and look to you, never give up.


How do you lead in difficult times?  Here are some suggestions.


1. Don’t try to go it alone.
Your natural inclination would be to either hunker down and hide or fight the battle alone.  Do the opposite.  You need a team.  You need comrades to fight with you.  A good leader will instinctively pull together a team in crisis.  Train yourself to be this kind of leader.  At times like this, be very selective in your associations – you need positive, solutions-minded people to help you.  You need folks with experience outside your realm of expertise.


2. Analyze, Strategize, Energize.  
You need all three components.  Analyze – know your enemy.  Strategize – Lay out your battle plan.  Energize – Carry it out.  In a crisis, there is that “deer-in-the-headlights” point where we see the danger coming right at us, and then we…freeze.  It is analysis paralysis, where we don’t know what to do, so we do nothing.  The best leaders will cycle through these three steps quickly.  Those who are not leaders will get stuck along the way.  So while there is merit to analysis and planning, you also have to make a decision and move on it.


3. Encourage yourself.  
As a leader, you have to be the giver of encouragement.  But the fact is, you can’t give what you don’t have.  So you have to figure out the things that encourage and energize you and be sure that you take the time to recharge in difficult times.


4.  Grow
Growth is key.  Maybe there is a business area that needs growth, maybe it is financial, perhaps it is relationships, whatever the area spending time on your own growth is key.  Leaders take growth seriously and that is one of the keys to their success.   Join me and one of my mentor’s John C. Maxwell on a free call where John will share insight on the 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. Click here to register as my guest. 


  1. Deb, this is brilliant. A friend was asking me how I stayed encouraged, I didn’t have the clarity of thought you have here so I forwarded your post link to her.

    Thank you for such a timely set of reminders, not limited to being focused on possible solutions and things that are going RIGHT.

    • admindeb says:

      Thanks Julia, we all go through those times and it is often when we’re on the other side of that mountain when we can see more clearly. Until of course the next one rolls into view. The good news is that we’re all products of our difficult times.