Leadership in Distress: Opportunities for Exceptional Leadership

The GrowthPlay leadership team examined the sign of the times, and asked, what is it that we want to offer our community to elevate hope? That will create clarity and will drive some measure of control and confidence so that people can act courageously in this distress and post stress?  With our Leadership in Distress Series we hope we can draw wisdom and best practices from those who really make a living navigating and helping leaders flourish in all times of prosperity and in spaces of crisis and distress.


Opportunities for Exceptional Leadership

Deb Knupp: Well hello friends what a pleasure it is today and to bring a conversation for the times as we think about leadership in distress.

My name is Deb Knupp, and I’m a managing director with GrowthPlay and I’ve had the great privilege of working in the space of business development, client development and leadership development for the last 20 years in service to the fantastic clients and context, we have at GrowthPlay.

It’s my great privilege today to introduce Lisa Slayton.

Lisa, if you will, maybe take a minute or two to introduce who you are and what you do and then we’ll dive into our conversation on a we can look at this point in time, as an opportunity for real growth and flourishing really grapple.

Lisa Slayton: Sure. Well, good morning Deb and to your GrowthPlay audience. Thanks so much for inviting me in.

This is indeed quite a, quite a moment we find ourselves in. And I think it’s going to be longer than a moment. We’ll talk about that shortly here.

I have a business background. I spent about 15 years in retail merchandising earlier in my career and then made a shift after staying home as a mom. Which is probably the best business training ground there is particularly with young children. For the last close to 20 years I’ve been functioning in the leadership development space both leading an organization and working with other organizations.

Deb Knupp: So my first opening question for you is, if you could look at this current crisis as an opportunity for really extraordinary or exceptional leadership. How would you describe the crisis as the opportunity for leadership?

Lisa Slayton: That’s a great question. And, and we’re watching and seeing our exceptional leaders emerge, aren’t we even on our national stage.

I think the first the first and most important thing that exceptional leaders do is they acknowledge the reality.

And, and I think we have to acknowledge the reality of this crisis and it is a big one. I would go as far as to say it’s unprecedented.

In our time and many are saying in the last century. I think that’s true. And it’s far from over. Right. It’s not a one and done. It’s not, oh this happened. And now we have to recover from it.

This is an unfolding situation that is going to be dynamic and fluid. I’ve used. I’ve heard the word fluid and dynamic about 200,000 times in various conversations and things I’ve been on over the last several weeks.

But, you know, if we go back to the good words from Jim Collins.

Jim’s counsel to what he described as level five leaders. Was that what they were what he noticed about them is that they were always able to confront what he called the brutal facts on the ground. Right.

And so I think we’ve seen extreme responses from leaders who are just now this is going to pass. It’s not that big a deal will make it through to ones who have gone into extreme kind of a fear based environment and hunkering down and are overreacting, the ones that are moving well and not easily don’t confuse well with easy are the ones who are dealing with the facts on the ground, every day and understanding what the dynamics are to the extent that they’re able to.

And they recognize that they don’t know, they can’t see everything that’s going on. And so they know the work of complexity is being able to work in that environment where you’re not trying to figure things out. You’re not going to this past place of reference, but rather that you are able to begin to see where the opportunities are and step into them. And here, I’d like to make an important distinction that we’ll talk about again as we move on. There’s a difference between an opportunity and being opportunistic. Right. And I think we’re going to see and have seen opportunistic leaders who want to leverage this for their own gain right. In some way, shape, or form use it as a platform or there are actually then there are leaders who are looking to say where are the opportunities and the mindset behind that is one that you mentioned, and even how growth play thinks about.

The services that you provide for your customers the opportunities are the opportunities to create value and serve. Right, so, so I think there’s a very distinct difference here and we need to pay attention to that.

I also think that the leaders who acknowledged the pain and the difficulty of this environment for the people that they’re caring for and are in there in the realm of their, you know, realm of responsibility.

Is a very important thing. False optimism here is not helpful. Right.

And there are a lot of. There’s a lot of counseling here well be optimistic and go out there and paint a rosy picture of the future. The reality is there is, it is not possible today.

To paint a rosy picture of the future. We know that things are going to change. And we know that they’re going to get better in some ways over time.

We also know that things are some things will never be quite the same again. And there’s real fear and pain and loss in our future.

So the, the leaders that are able to step into that space and really pay attention to where people are struggling.

And be willing to do the very hard thing that most leaders. I know, and I’m sure it’s true of the leaders, you work with as well hate to say, and it’s a very simple phrase, and that is, I don’t know.

Right, it demonstrates both courage and vulnerability and both of those things are required in this moment that.

Lisa Slayton is the Founding Partner and CEO of Tamin Partners LLC.

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