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How To Be A Better Leader In Tough Times

By Mike Lattimer
How To Be A Better Leader In Tough Times

Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr are all remembered for being great leaders, but there's something else they have in common; they achieved what they did in particularly difficult times. Now, running a business or managing a workforce can't exactly be compared with the situations these famous historical faces found themselves in, but there are things you can learn from the examples. Most notably that taking the bull by the horns beats retreating in indecision any day of the week.

Below are some tips to help you navigate the stormy seas and make it through triumphant with your team fully intact.

Acceptance and honesty are key

When you’ve invested so much time and effort in the search for success, it can be hard to accept when things aren’t quite going to plan. Ignoring the issues, however, will get you nowhere. Your team must see that you’re fully aware of the situation, and that you’re working on solutions – because any issues are as much theirs as yours.

You always need the trust of your team, but it’s particularly important when there are bumps in the road that need navigating – now is the time to have everyone pulling in the same direction, so you can’t leave people thinking they’re being lied to or left out of the loop. Be open and honest about what’s going on.

Be decisive

Whilst it will help to involve people (don’t assume you have to tackle everything on your own), when it comes down to business you must be decisive – after all, management is all about taking responsibility.

Not everyone will agree with every move you make, that’s a given, but do it with confidence and be sure to remind everyone of the thinking behind your decisions. They should, if right, benefit everyone in the long run.

Have clear goals…

Everybody around you must know exactly what they’re working towards. The usual objective of “increase revenue to £5 million” may have to take a back seat temporarily, so ensure the team understands its replacement, whether that’s to maintain overall client sentiment or simply to reduce overheads.

…and put them before yourself

Right now your company’s mission is more important than you are, and if the team is to have faith, they must see that you truly believe that.

When opportunities arise, make a point of demonstrating that you’re willing to sacrifice your own short-term interests for the sake of the team goal. If the aim is to cut costs, consider reducing your own expenses (hotels, travel, lunches etc.) – you’ll struggle to foster a ‘we’re in this together’ mentality if people don’t believe you’re making the effort too.

Positivity breeds positivity

Pessimism has never helped a business leader through difficulty, and it’s unlikely to benefit you or your team now. Morale is crucial in tough times so make it a priority and lead by example. After all, your team will look to you for inspiration and guidance – the worst thing you can do is let them down.


This article was written in collaboration with Mike Lattimer, Managing Director here at SF Recruitment. In addition to his operational management role, he is also one of our most consistently high performers while managing his executive interim market. He leads our Business Development initiative which has seen many long-term client relationships form.  Mike has loyal client network throughout Birmingham and the wider West Midlands and a trusted and exceptionally talented bank of candidates ready to take on assignments across the UK. 

Mike Lattimer
Mike Lattimer
Managing Director – SF Technology & SF Recruitment (West)