Chris Falco of Falco Sult accounting firm knows that one of the most important aspects of becoming a good leader is your ability to adjust to constantly changing circumstances. Being able to think on your feet, react to situations as they arise and leverage the strengths of others will serve you well as you navigate opportunities and solve problems.

The following are two important points you should consider as you adjust to leadership situations around you:

  1. Be Flexible in Dealing with People with Diverse Work Style
  2. “Understand that your approach to work is correct, but that does not make it the only correct approach,” advises Chris Falco. “Realize that contrasting work styles can complement one another and make for a stronger overall outcome.”

    • Consider any input you receive from any level in the organization.
    • Involve diverse groups in solving problems and developing opportunities.
    • Be sensitive to the fact that some people want their differences recognized, while others do not.
    • Carefully consider your automatic responses to assumptions and stereotypes.

    When asking for an explanation of a viewpoint that differs from yours, state your intention to understand another person’s viewpoint, rather than have them justify it. Examine the reasons why people approach the task, topic or objective as they do. Use this information to decide which way or what combination of ways will create the result you want.

    Challenging Activities to Practice

    Make a list of your direct reports. List as many differences as you can between their work styles and consider how you can foster development of their full potential, using their individual work style. Consider the following:

    • Some approach projects in a structured, time-efficient manner; others may have a less structured and more creative approach.
    • Some focus on details; others may focus on the overall mission.
    • Some prefer an approach that involves frequent interpersonal interaction; others may prefer to work in solitude.
    • Some prefer individual projects; others may prefer involving a group or team.

    Cultivate effective working relationships and be a team player, rather than a competitor.

  3. React Constructively to Setbacks
  4. According to Falco, setbacks are inevitable but are rarely catastrophic. “Keep things in perspective,” he says, “Avoid agonizing over minor adjustments to the overall objective.”

    It’s crucial in good leadership to develop your assertiveness skills. When setbacks occur, learn to say what you think and feel in ways others can understand and without blaming others. You will have more support and cooperation by focusing on your role in the setback, rather than just pointing fingers.

    The next time you experience a setback, ask yourself, “What did I learn?” Determine where things went wrong and what you could do differently next time to prevent a similar setback.

    Challenging Activities to Practice

    In setback situations, keep a cool head and evaluate the seriousness of the setback before reacting. For instance, make it a practice to discuss the setback situation (especially if it impacts a deadline) with your manager, a peer, or affected direct reports before making a decision. Together, gather all the facts and evaluate the seriousness of the setback. Give the situation a crisis rating from 1 (can wait) to 10 (needs immediate attention). Together, brainstorm alternative courses of action. Select the alternative that best addresses the setback situation.

    Be aware of times when you are continuing to follow a procedure because it has been the traditional way of doing things. As a leader, you should always consider other alternatives.