By Owen Phelps, Ph.D.

Tough times present servant leaders with a host of challenges — but also with a unique opportunity to serve their followers and organizations. To borrow a phrase from Rita McGrath, writing for Harvard Business Publishing, effective leaders “absorb some of the uncertainty” that weighs on those around them.

Whether the pressure falls on your organization or on your associates personally, the effect is the same: “When people are facing uncertainty, they tend to go into ‘frozen in the headlights’ mode,” McGrath notes. That’s when effective leaders help people “move forward with confidence.”

Here’s how servant leaders can help both their team members and their organizations weather hard times:

  • Plan — Bad times are the best time to devote resources to planning for better times. It accomplishes two things: it keeps everyone from obsessing over the current reality, and it applies resources productively when you shouldn’t be taking big, expensive risks anyway.
  • Build capacity — Look for ways to develop your staff’s capabilities so that when times improve (or they have to look for other work), they are more prepared to handle the challenges effectively.
  • Keep your eyes on the prize — We Christians know how the story ends, and that should give us hope. There will be tough times, but don’t panic. These days will pass. Meanwhile, prepare for inevitable opportunities ahead.

Project your firm hope in God’s providence, reach out to those most troubled, and make it clear that you deeply value those around you. In that way you can be a source of confidence — and consolation — to those around you.

Copyright © 2009 Yeshua Catholic International Leadership Institute, 208 E. North St., Durand, IL 61024. Any part of this newsletter may be reproduced so long as there is full attribution, our web site is listed, and any electronic reproduction includes a link to our site:

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