Last Updated Apr 15, 2009 11:37 AM EDT
Recessions are when managers have to discover the bad cop act and the art of what I call "unreasonable management".
Unreasonable managers are not bullies, who are awkward about everything -- they learn to be difficult selectively. They pick one or two must-win battles.
They set goals which stretch, but do not break people. Critically, they understand how to help their team succeed. They play bad cop in setting goals, good cop in helping teams achieve their objectives.
Here are four principles of the good cop act:
- Be clear about the goals and flexible about the means. Don't try to micro-manage everything. Force your team to take responsibility, and then trust people to deliver.
- Over-communicate. Once the goals are set, don't spend time planning, reviewing and decision-making. Communicate: listen, encourage, coach and support.
- Focus, focus, focus. In crises, everything can seem to go wrong at the same time. Ineffective leaders panic and indulge in a plethora of initiatives which confuse everyone and waste resources (the government, please note). Strong leaders create order out of chaos by focusing on the few things that really matter.
- Stay positive. Followers dislike FUD -- fear, uncertainty and doubt. Create clarity, focus on the successes and the future, and don't allow people to indulge in the blame game.