Getting Results In Difficult Times: Improvise

Be open to everything that happens.

Improv comedians and actors follow a basic principle that is required for improv to work.  It is the art of being open to every idea and word you are given in the moment, without any resistance. The moment you resist what is coming your way the magic of the moment is shut down and creativity lost.

An open mind free of preconceived beliefs allows innovative ideas to surface in your conscious mind.  Be Versatile. When I catch myself thinking something is not possible, I immediately challenge that thought and ask, “Why not?”

As the unexpected, unanticipated surprises and challenges come your way in difficult times, remember the discipline of the improv artist.  Don’t resist the ideas, or the problems you’re handed. Be open and the solution will flow out of you without effort.  Improvise!


Getting Things Done In Difficult Times: Decide What Not To Do

Sometimes deciding what you will not do, or condone, brings more focus than creating plans and tactics.

What will you and your team stop doing? Where will you stop spending resources in order to repurpose those resources toward a more productive outcome?  When will unproductive activity and meetings have an end put to them? This is the task of leadership.

I have observed professionals laboring over setting tactics, but unable to eliminate tasks, programs and unproductive procedures. Remember the Stop-Start-Continue exercise?  The most difficult part of that exercise is deciding what you will stop doing; however, it is the most critical of the three steps in my view.

Have the courage to say no to ideas that aren’t in alignment with your strategic goals; limit activities that do not move you closer to your goal, and free people from meaningless tasks that aren’t directly contributing to serving your clients or achieving your objectives.


Getting Results In Difficult Times: Criticism Tolerance

Develop a high tolerance for criticism.

Leading toward sustained results in challenging times will often lead to criticism and being misunderstood.  Leaders who get things done have to develop tough skin and personal resolve.

A Senior Vice President had to explain to his Regional Sales Managers, who were celebrating a profitable year, that while they had met expectations on profitability, new sales revenue had actually slipped. The SVP believes the numbers indicate a weakness and future problems that need to be addressed.  One of the managers wanted to know why he couldn’t just celebrate the success.

Leaders who achieve sustained results in difficult times seek to understand and communicate the story the numbers are telling.  Even if that story is unpopular.