Circumstances and conditions rule the ignorant, not breakthrough leaders.

When you are leading your company in the face of adverse conditions or crisis, it is all too easy to get pulled into the current mindset that is contributing to those circumstances.

This means not letting your spirit be daunted, or your commitment to a breakthrough be dampened, when facing difficult challenges.

It doesn’t matter that the reasons for the challenges are from external situations such as market forces, the economy, disruptive technology, or loss of competitive advantage.

“When you are going through hell, keep going.”
– Winston Churchill

Going beyond circumstances to breakthrough

However, it is not just any kind of perseverance that creates breakthrough performance—it is perseverance with a full understanding of the conditions and with a powerful commitment to innovating, and looking for alternative directions.

John Jastrem recently named as CEO of North American activities for Arcadis (a global natural and built-asset design and consultancy) is a turnaround expert who has succeeded in each of the many posts he has taken.

In an interview with Insigniam Quarterly, Jastrem shared some lessons learned from successfully turning around public, private-equity owned and entrepreneurial companies facing large challenges. (Insigniam Quarterly, Spring 2015)

Six tips from an expert for dealing with adverse situations:

Jastrom has found the following approaches invaluable when dealing with adversity:

  1. Keep an eye on the reality and understand the magnitude of the problem.
    Know where the market is going and what that means for your future.
  2. Avoid quick fixes that bounce results but won’t lead to sustained results.
    Instead, strive for continuous improvement.
  3. Harness the sense of urgency for focus and prioritizing.
    Don’t try to take on all the problems at once. Prioritize the top five.
  4. Make the best decision possible then galvanize 100% support for it.
  5. Watch the results of your actions to see if it gives the intended outcomes.
  6. Regroup and respond if not by learning and moving on to a better approach.

There are many challenges in our times that are unforeseen and unexpected; currency swings, interest rates, and dropping oil prices.

By focusing on what can be addressed and impacted in the culture of your own company, you gain access to transforming adversity into success. Jastrem recommends staying focused on basic cultural questions such as:

  • What you are best at?
  • What are your customers looking for?
  • How do you provide the very best in class solutions?

At the heart of this kind of leadership is a commitment to success that radiates an infectious positive attitude and readiness for anything.

How about you?

What circumstances have you been letting shape your leadership approach?
What new perspective can you create that will empower breakthrough performance?

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