Saturday, November 29, 2008

Leading Difficult... er, Depressed People

The holidays are a challenge for some and in our current economy, there may be more challenges than you usually see. As a Contagious Leader, you may not see the difference between a stress induced reaction, or a bad holiday attitude, or fear based thinking that turns into a morale problem, unless you know what to look for. Try these leadership tips to help you get through the holidays and lead those who need you most during this time...

1. Remain compassionate - not everyone's holiday looks like a Kay Jewelers commercial. There are money concerns, family stresses and issues you may not even know about that surface between Thanksgiving and the December holiday season. Depression usually reveals itself in ways that mirror a "bad attitude", but don't be fooled. Compassion and patience can carry you a long way to maintaining productivity, fortifying your ability to earn respect, and simply, showing others that you do really care. You do, don't you?

2. Address the fear - if you're company is among the many who are talking about layoffs and cost reductions, be clear with those you work with on what is coming in the next few weeks. If the team you lead is walking around in fear of their jobs, their performance will not likely be stellar, but more often it will slow down, if not stop all together. Fear creates a freezing type of behavior. In the face of ambiguity, people also freeze. Tell what you know to the point of over informing and if you have been given a gag order to tell anything, help those you lead to work through the consequences you know are coming. In other words, if you are going to lay someone off and you know it, find a way to help them get clear on what action they should take to land on their feet. There is a way you can help without revealing that which you have been asked to keep secret.

3. Watch your own tolerance and attitude - compassion is one thing, dealing with your own stress is another. This is a time in our office when we wrap up all the open projects we have been too busy to finish. While others are decorating trees, planning holiday dinners, and wrapping presents, I am usually delegating tasks, reviewing websites, writing books, and more. That means that my own stress, of my own doing, may rub off on others and I have to be careful not to let this spill over into the relationships with those that I have the privilge of leading. Your fuse may be shorter this time of year and watch out. A mere drive to the office supply store the closer we get to Christmas, could create an unusual amount of stress. Pay attention to how that is affecting your mood and don't let that stress be contagious.

You are a Contagious Leader and it is always about those you have the privilege of leading. This time of year, that can become an even more important fact. Stay Contagious!

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Monica Wofford, CSP, is the CEO of Contagious Companies.

She is also an international speaker, trainer, author and coach. Having written Contagious Leadership and trained organizations and companies such as Estee Lauder, Hallmark and the FAA, the US Mint and The City of New York, Monica is a skilled facilitator who helps you develop employees who stay longer, produce more and complain less. For more information, contact our Contagious Companies office at 1-866-382-0121.