He was a best-selling author, living an enviable life of travel and adventure as part of his fulfilling vocation. He got married and became the father of twin girls.
Shortly thereafter, in his early forties, Bruce Feiler experienced what he came to call a “lifequake.” He was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer and nearly lost his life. His finances plunged toward bankruptcy; and his father, diagnosed with Parkinsons, tried to take his own life six times in twelve weeks.
But what happened next changed everything.
As he faced the very real possibility of his death, Bruce formed a “Council of Dads,” close friends and mentors who would each bring part of him to the lives of his daughters. Together, they represented his personality, values, memories, and life lessons – the things he would want to convey to his daughters if he were not there with them as they grew to adulthood.
For his dad, he began asking him one question each week that would bring his dad to reflect on his life and share memories and insights. The questions went on for several years, one question each week, and his father lived with a renewed sense of purpose. It culminated in a volume of life stories and insights that proved to be a priceless treasure.
And along the way, Bruce overcame the cancer, despite the incredible odds.
Here’s the thing: Everyone will experience their share of challenges, each registering at varying degrees on a personal Richter scale. As Bruce notes in his book, some come from external forces, and some come from internal sources. But they come, sometimes individually and, at times, collectively, across communities and cultures.
This is when leaders must guide through the crisis. They must step up to lead themselves and others through these challenges.
How Can You Lead through Challenge?
1. Face Reality
While the first natural reaction is denial, a leader must quickly assess the reality of the situation. Denial can lead to delaying necessary decisions that could impact outcomes. In a business, a leader may choose to ignore numbers that are serving as alarm bells, only to realize, too late, that the issue could have been resolved if they had chosen to see the reality of the situation earlier.
2. Find Resources
A leader must identify the resources needed and gather them together. This may be resources such as tools, supplies, or training; or it may be making certain connections between people and services. It comes from asking, “Who or what is necessary to fill the needs?” A proactive leader will identify the needs and ask this question before the challenge happens. It is about being prepared with healthy relationships and strategic resources before you actually need them.
3. Form a Team
Leaders must know their own strengths, and also be aware of areas where they have weakness. In these areas, a good leader will find those with strengths to fill the gaps. A strong leader is good. A strong leader with a strong team can overcome insurmountable odds. This may be in the form of a corporate team, a community service group, or, as in Bruce’s case above, a “Council of Dads.”
4. Facilitate Action
Great leaders know how to facilitate action. Where there is apathy, they prompt assertiveness. Where there is fear, they create calm. Where there is need, they engage service. And where there is chaos, they instill order. This is why leaders must learn to lead themselves before they can lead others.
Take some time to consider your leadership through challenge.
- How have you led in the past?
- How can you lead better in the future?
- Do you have a strong set of resources on the ready?
- How are you leading yourself?
How will you lead others?
As the CEO of Strength Leader Development, Deb Ingino is a highly sought-after international executive mentor, coach, trainer, and speaker. Deb is well versed in global business operations and helps business leaders and their teams to discover and leverage their strengths, so they can create highly collaborative teams that deliver great results. With a refreshingly direct style, and using the Maxwell Method, Deb helps leaders and teams to deliver profitable results. Connect with Deb to learn more about her mentorship and coaching programs to equip you with advanced strategies to elevate your results