Facing just another day in Armageddon

I hear it daily: “The system is broken.” “The funding isn’t even close to adequate.” “It’s just not possible.” To some, it can sound like the end of the world.

My mission as CEO is not to fix the problem for my team, but to translate the sirens and flashing lights into a confident, “Yep, we’ve got this.” Grace under pressure, crisis management, training under duress. Call it what you will, it’s an opportunity to lead, to teach and best of all — to discover the leaders in your organization.

At the C-suite level, challenges are anything but garden variety. While this actually appealed to you when you signed on, it’s one thing to manage change resulting from a carefully initiated strategic plan.

It’s quite another matter entirely when you’re facing something that has shown up uninvited and wildly unwanted. When this happens, the question becomes: Armageddon has stopped by (again). How do you motivate and support a team that correctly believes it’s already giving you everything they’ve got?

Your answer:

You are here
■  Your team deserves an honest and well-informed assessment of the situation.
■  Give them aggressive goals solidly rooted in what can be achieved.
■  Let them know that they have your full confidence, and the resources necessary to achieve the goals you’ve thrown down.
■  Be real. No one is going to work harder and risk more for a person or situation they don’t understand or believe in.

You made an informed choice to be here
■  Remind your team that they chose their profession largely because they’re excellent at what they do.
■  Highlight that they’ve chosen the organization because they believe in what it’s working to achieve.
■  Emphasize that the experience they’ve acquired and the accomplishments they’ve earned have been obtained by facing challenges similar to what’s in front of them now.

It matters that you’re here
■  Tell your team that individually, they are part of the solution, and collectively, they are equal to any challenge staring down your organization.
■  Let them do what you hired them to do. Said another way, let them make a difference.
■  Show them the progress they’re making while keeping their eyes on the prize. It can be difficult to see the degree of success that’s being realized while you’re in the eye of the storm.
■  Remind them that the quality of the outcome, and the strength of team, comes from what is created over and above the norm.
■  Give them the win.

As CEO, I spend a significant amount of time thinking about what separates great from good. As often as not, it all boils down to a well-worn quote from Henry Ford: “Whether you believe you can do a thing or not — you are right.” So much of motivation is in the message. Those aren’t sirens you’re hearing. It’s the sound of opportunity.

Terry Davis is president and CEO at Our Lady of the Wayside