I’ve been writing about steps great leaders take in overcoming setbacks and adversity. As solutions are attempted, ups and downs will occur. Leaders often take their people into new territory. Things don’t always follow the plan.
According to Ryan Holiday, in The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumphs (Portfolio/Penguin, 2014), defeating setbacks requires humility, resilience and flexibility from the leader. This is manifested in the inner will.
By demonstrating this inner will, you will inspire others to apply themselves until the setback is overcome. Be an encourager. Reinforce that the things most worth doing are difficult, and difficult things take time. Prompt everyone to be determined not to give in or give up. THIS is the will to win.
HP’s purchase into touch screen consumer products offered them a solid opportunity amongst the top competitors. But underdeveloped hardware, software and relationships with carriers caused the walls to close in. After spending billions of dollars, the strategy was abandoned just months after launch, instead of pressing forward with the will to overcome. Their prospects for tablets and smartphones vaporized, as the market for them soared.
A strong will also calls for wisdom and discernment. The solutions being tried need to be weighed to minimize the chance of bad surprises. Oversee the planning of alternate routes, just in case. Anticipate what can go wrong, accept the outcomes that can’t be controlled, and maneuver toward the ones that can.
Leaders who can stand up to stiff opposition, whether circumstances or people, will forge a strength in their staff, and inspire them to respond boldly. I’ve seen this in my coaching practice: Unity builds a force more powerful than that which comes from the same number of individuals.
The tragedy is not that things go wrong or crises knock you down. The tragedy is that when a leader doesn’t have the skills or the will to take their organization through the trial, they miss the opportunity to learn from it, and grow because of it.