Monthly Archives: July 2010

Exceptional Leaders uphold Dignity and Respect, even in Challenging Situations

I have come to appreciate the values of exceptional leaders because they consistently demonstrate a balance between achieving their goals and valuing their people.

This type of leadership never has been more important. Even as we see glimpses of the economy turning around, we know there is a long way to go.

Among those most greatly impacted are some of these valued people who have lost their jobs through layoffs or terminations. The emotions they experience range from anger, fear and despair to relief and optimism about new opportunities.

Others who are affected may be less obvious, including those who are still employed and the leaders who must make these decisions, which are especially difficult during tough economic times.

What do the exceptional leaders do to help employees when jobs are being eliminated? First, they ensure their managers and HR professionals treat employees fairly so they can transition with dignity and respect. Some offer an opportunity for employees to apply for other positions within the company. Others offer severance pay and a continuation of benefits as a means of minimizing the stress of the change.

Some of the most helpful benefits employers can offer are outplacement services in which transitioning employees are connected with experienced career coaches who provide support and resources that may include:

* Individualized personal coaching.* Career and skills assessments.* Resume review and writing services.* Personal brand development.* Transition strategies.* Job search tracking resources.* Online resources and tools.* Networking skills.* Interview preparation.* Skills for negotiating the offer.* Access to employment professionals.* Group classes or “webinars.”* Personalized marketing Web sites.

There are many reasons displaced employees value these services. For starters, such services help them manage unproductive emotions and transition to positive action more quickly. That can help them explore a broader range of options for employment.

These services also improve confidence and optimism, which ideally shortens the job search process and ensures a smoother transition to the next job.

Likewise, employers also get value from outplacement services. Foremost among a host of reasons is these services often are viewed as “the right thing to do,” and reinforce the positive image the company has worked hard to establish.

Additionally, these services allow former employees to have greater goodwill for the company, regardless of the reason for their termination. That can both positively impact the morale and productivity of the remaining employees and minimize potential costs and liabilities.

Finding the right resource is critical to a successful outplacement experience. The last thing an employer needs at a time like this are displaced employees disappointed by the services provided.

There are, therefore, several questions to consider. Among them:

* Are they staffed with experienced career coaches and employment professionals who know the local and national job market?* Will they promise confidentiality?* Will they establish clear goals and expectations at the outset of the coaching?* Do they provide relevant tools and resources to assist employees in their job search, including professional resume review and expert guidance for navigating the online tools that are available?* Are they flexible in shaping the program to the company’s needs and budget?

The service an employer chooses and their coaches become an extension of your company during this time. That makes it critical they deliver the highest quality services to make this difficult transition less painful for everyone involved.

This article first appeared in the July 12, 2010 issue of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal.

Exceptional Leaders and Failure

Exceptional leaders never confuse their failures with their identities.

They are kind of like the old donkey that I heard about that fell in the well. The old farmer saw that the well was too deep and knew that the donkey was old and not worth much, so he decided to just bury the beast right there in the well. So he started shoveling. But to his amazement, the old donkey would see that load of dirt coming his way and he would just shake it off, and step up, shake it off and step up, until he climbed right out of that well.

Likewise, exceptional leaders know that life and leadership is full of obstacles and challenges. They know they will make mistakes. One of this country’s most exceptional leaders was General George Washington. During the Revolutionary War against the British for American freedom he faced a stronger and more experienced army, was under-resourced by those that sent him into war, faced the desertion of his troops and the ridicule of his countrymen. As discouraging as that must have been, he didn’t let those setbacks defeat him. He and his troops believed in the cause of freedom so much that they rose up again and again, against the greatest of odds. By shear determination and the grace of God they won the critical battles that determined the final outcome of the war and established America as the first nation to be born based on a belief in freedom and justice for all, a belief that all men are created equal, and a belief that a nation founded on the rule of law rather than the law of men would be a unique nation. via George Leckie, in George Washington’s War.

It was Abraham Lincoln, another exceptional leader, who is legendary for overcoming his numerous failures, financial and personal setbacks and political defeats to become the most remembered and respected presidents in U.S. history, credited for the abolition of slavery and keeping these United States from dividing in two.

I could go on and on with similar stories. The point is that the only failure that is fatal is the one that you let keep you down.