Article

Attitude Adjustment

By Hannah Wallace August 31, 2009

›› Organizations are constantly barraged by challenges—in good times and bad—and today’s best leaders have to be comfortable with change in order to find the next competitive edge, says Cookie Boudreaux, a senior consultant with Mark Kamin & Associates who leads executive management seminars in the Sarasota-Bradenton area.  

“With today’s uncertainty, change is happening at a much faster pace,” says Boudreaux. “We as human beings don’t like change; we want it to be comfortable. Well, the leaders of today have to be comfortable being uncomfortable. And that takes a new type of leader and a brand-new approach to the workforce.”

First and foremost, that approach focuses on helping employees reach their full potential in the face of negative conditions. “In negative times, people focus inward rather than outward,” she says. “Their focus and their capacity to produce work suffer.”

And, “The more negativity in the workplace, the more it costs you,” says Boudreax. “Peace of mind and the freedom to focus on what’s important to you, that’s priceless.”

Staying Charged Up

First, separate facts from emotions.  Employees today are worried about job safety, so employers must schedule time regularly to share the facts about that business, their jobs, and what they can do to improve the effectiveness of the business. “I don’t care if you have three or 300 employees,” says Boudreaux, “your communication with them has to be different and more frequent.”

Assess what really works about you and your business. ”We all have strengths and weaknesses,” says Boudreaux, “but most of the time we focus on our weaknesses because that’s where, if you correct them, you can get some good leverage. It’s critical that every leader trains their people and themselves to focus on their strengths, to empower themselves in this negative barrage of fear-based conversations.” If you only focus on your weaknesses, it becomes a downward spiral. And, “ultimately,” she says, “it’s our own fear that stops us.”

Assess your competition. “You don’t operate just by yourself, you’re one of many,” says Boudreaux. “You have to find out what’s working, and what’s not working in your field, both in Sarasota and in your world, to educate yourself as to where you’re going to be moving.”

Commit to being a winner in the face of challenge. Have a heart-to-heart with yourself. Are you ready to make the changes that will help you come out of this economic downturn better than before it happened? Are you ready to take stock of the value of your people, their creativity and loyalty? “All human beings have the capacity to be creative,” she says, “but if you don’t engage them, you lose it.”

Chart a plan of action. With facts—not emotions—leading you, choose the areas in which you’re going to have to make drastic changes, gather your team of experts, educate your employees and launch your plan. Remember to schedule regular employee huddles, “to check up how you are doing on the plan.” ■

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