Smile, You’re being watched

You may be an executive, a mid-level manager, a lead or project manager of a matrixed team, but if you lead a team, you are always being watched.

The people you serve, and the organization at large are reading your verbal and non-verbal signals like a weatherman at a barometer.

The reference to weather is pretty accurate too. If the company is growing (spring time), employees will see lots of energy and enthusiasm from leadership. There may be occasional bad days and growing pains showing up on your face, but as long as they are as short lived as a spring storm, the team will let it pass.

It is the nature of my work, but I see a lot of leaders in the corporate cycle of fall and winter. These seasons are characterized by people realize things have been coming apart and working very hard to recover. Lines of stress appear on executive faces, there are lots of closed door meetings with the window shades drawn, and there is very little time for engaging, developing, and leading employees. Much less managing operations.

You know the problems will eventually get figured out and “spring time” will return, but unless you convey that long term optimism people may see too many cloudy faces and begin to believe the corporate winter will never end. This leads to office politics, attrition, and worst of all…organizational lethargy.

You can do better.

The true test of a leader is how they carry themselves when the going is tough.

Your challenge is to be cheerful, and authentically optimistic about the future while dealing with challenges of today.

I am not for one second suggesting that you be a phony. Just realize that you and your company are better than anything a few tough weeks or months can throw at you, and no matter how gratifying it may be to mope, your team deserves your best.

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