The first and the strongestRoger Quinn ▼ | Sunday October 17, 2010 6:01PM ET
Nobody wants to work for a weak boss. If the boss is always anxious and uncertain, more prone to wringing his hands than taking decisive action, what message does that send to the rest of the company? Poor leadership can be a sign to employees that they're on a sinking ship and that there's time to move on. In the other hand, for those workers whose mission in life is to do as little as possible that means they can get away with pretty much anything because the boss doesn't have the courage to fire them.
OK, those are maybe extreme examples but the point is: while leading a company, especially in a challenging business climate, you need real courage. Your employees won't rally behind you unless they see that you've got it. Courage means different things in different situations, and it's different in a big company than in a small business. However, we will give you some examples of behaviour that will breathe a will in your employees to follow you and leave the competitors in the dust.
You must have the ability to make a decision and act, even when you're operating in unknown territory. You must be able to weigh out the pros and cons and, even when there is no perfect solution, determine what you can live with and take the appropriate action.
The strength to make painful but necessary cuts is No2 on your must have list. That may be breaking the contract with useless advisors service, turn down some business offer, moving into cheaper corporate building or firing those who don't work. Don't expect that somebody else will do that.
In bad times and good times one decision is always hard to make: to invest in new products or services and take the risk that it can fail. That's one of the toughest decision on the table, but think: that decision is always hard because it can always put your company in deep trouble.
So, don't listen "it's crisis, it's not smart to hire people now and expand, let's wait to see what will happen". If you are waiting nothing will happen. If you see a good opportunity go for it. People succeed in good times and bad times, there's no difference.
Another tough decision, especially if you started from the scratch and made your company, is to delegate responsibility. Yes, we know, you are accustomed to do it all by yourself but those days are over. There are other very capable people around you and they are experts in their own fields. By delegation responsibilities you will show them your trust and you will have more time thinking about strategy and long-term goals.
And here come the scariest fear of them all: to admit that you are wrong. As Jack Welch once said: "I was wrong 50% of the time" and he lived. And continued as CEO. And become one of the best managers of all times. So, admit when you are wrong and make a plan how to fix it. Your employees like strong boss but they also like a human boss, Terminator is not what they need. I admit, all that is easier to write than do, but give yourself a try, day by day, and you will arise in the boss that everyone will follow. ■