July 29th, 2009 | 1:00 pm

Four Tips for Becoming a Visionary in Challenging Times

filed under Expert Answers

jo-miller-headshot-smlContributed by Jo Miller, CEO, Women’s Leadership Coaching

During a recent women’s leadership webinar, I asked Krista Thomas, Vice President, Marketing and Communications for The Calais Initiative at Thomson Reuters, how a person should determine what their organization needs in these challenging economic times.  In addition to answering the question, she addressed a more intriguing issue – how to provide visionary leadership during challenging economic times:

1.   Don’t keep your head down / check in often

“You really can make a mistake by keeping your head down and staying quiet, because sometimes you get caught up in a stream of activity that really isn’t core or strategic to your company,” said Thomas.

“My policy is to check in often,” she added, “Make sure that the goals and the metrics that you’re measuring are still priority number one in executing on your goals for the company.  Also, don’t be afraid to raise your hand, go personally to your management, and really make sure you’re still on target.”

2.    Be adaptive and go with the flow

“It can be tempting in troubling times like this to get flustered and frustrated and be upset when things go off-plan, or when the plan changes.  You may not necessarily always be in the loop.  If you’re not at that senior level, you may not know when some of the strategies change, which can happen in real time.”

She continued, “The key is to be able to be flexible, to demonstrate your ability to not get stuck in the old thinking when the thinking has changed.  Check in, know what’s going on, know where others’ thoughts are going, and show that flexibility. Show your adaptability and ability to go with the flow.”

3.    Move toward the next opportunity

“Things are going to be chaotic, especially in this economy. We saw this when ‘Web 1.0’ imploded all around us.  The way to survive was to look for the next opportunity and walk towards that as opposed to being afraid,” she explained.

4.    Create an environment of calmness and creativity

 In a final point, Thomas emphasized the importance of generating new ideas. “Nothing is more helpful in a difficult time than creativity.  If you’ve got creativity and you can bring problem solving or people skills, you’ll help mitigate other people on the team being upset. If you’re one of those people who can come in and calm people down, and get them re-focused on new priorities, you’re very valuable right now.”

Since 1998 Jo Miller, CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching, has developed and implemented coaching programs that have benefited women worldwide. Jo created the Women’s Leadership Coaching Inc. leadership coaching system, and has logged many thousands of hours coaching women who are in executive and management positions, or aspire to be.  She was named one of Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal’s 40 people to watch under the age of 40 in 2006, and one of Silicon Valley’s Women of Influence in 2008.

2 comments

  1. Gar Alan Miller

    Great article, with great advice. I particularly appreciate #4 on your list. My first manager role model was an absolute picture of calmness and I’ve always tried to adapt that to my own approach to being a colleague and manager.

  2. Meredith Masse MPOWER Consulting

    Great advice! I might also add a #5: Engage employees at all levels around #1 through #4 and ask for their insights, thoughts, and suggestions. You never know where the next category changing idea may come from. And, when they are a part of the solutions, they will OWN making them happen.

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