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2 Challenges for the Overwhelmed Leader

Tim Geithner, the newly minted Treasury Secretary, has to do the seemingly impossible: fix the economy while remaining a source of confidence to his bare bones staff and the American people.

Mr. Geithner is hardly in an enviable position but most leaders and managers probably know the question that’s racing through his head, “How do I tackle my pressing to-do list without abandoning my staff and role as as leader?”

The trick, in this situation, is knowing how to work well within your shell while giving others the sense that head-way is being made.

During a crisis uncertainty and overwhelming demands force leaders to create a systematic plan of action. An increasing work load requires leaders to create a shell where they can work and strategies using their natural strengths. Isolation and focus are essential to attacking an onslaught of challenges.

However, the creation of a workable ‘plan of action’ takes time and causes leaders to pause. The pause, to a staff, can appear as a void, a void with a large flashing banner reading, “we’re not moving fast enough.”

This void can easily result in panic and pressure, forcing hesitant leaders to move more quickly than they intended or would like to. This can cause mistakes and needless back-pedaling. A overwhelmed team will grow stagnate, tired, and worried leading to decreased productivity. It’s essential for a team to always have their eyes set on the end result and feel as if their growing ‘to-do’ list is manageable.

Now, the challenge for the leader with a teetering in-box is two fold:

  1. Know how to carefully mold a ‘plan of action’ within the context of uncertainty.
  2. Understand how to give reassuring signals to your team so they know, at all times, progress is being made.

Leaders must be able to devise a plan of attack for their towering in-box while communicating a sense of pace and accomplishment within the office. No one feelscomfortable when a project is stalled so it requires a strong leader to always create a sense of forward movement so productivity remains consistent.

Mr. Geithner will do well if he can apply his skill and creativity to the problems at hand while continually sending out firm, forward looking, messages. Let’s wish him luck.

Do you think Mr. Geithner will be able to avoid the void?



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