The CEO Update article, “Crises can give leaders, associations opportunities to soar,” quoted Russell Reynolds Associates Consultant Stephanie Tomasso on important leadership qualities to help associations navigate through hard times. The article is excerpted below.
Associations are facing possibly the greatest economic disruption since the Great Depression, and both staff and members are looking to top executives for guidance and leadership. That is not a cause for panic, according to CEOs who have led associations through past crises. The best strategies for dealing with such times are learning to live with uncertainty, being transparent about the challenges ahead, and giving staff the chance to flex their creative muscles in solving problems the association is facing.
Rise and shine
One leadership quality that can help associations get through tough times is being able to see the impacts of a decision through multiple lenses, said executive recruiter Stephanie Tomasso of Russell Reynolds Associates. A CEO must be able to synthesize how a decision will play out financially, how it will play out emotionally with members, and how it will play out in terms of advocacy, if a group is engaged in that activity.
In other words, leaders must be “somebody who can think about all of those things and be able to synthesize the different voices and the data at hand to come to a decision,” she said.
Another important leadership quality is being able to mitigate the anxiety employees are feeling right now, Tomasso said.
“Some of that is how do you give people the opportunities to shine in moments like this,” she said. “Many organizations are putting task forces together or groups to think about how to tackle a particular issue. I think this is an opportunity for leaders to think about non-traditional candidates for those types of cohorts.”
A crisis can be a time to give rising stars in an organization chance to lead, even when they are not traditionally someone who is heard around the table, Tomasso said. That could be even more necessary now as many talented people are likely to remain with their current organizations instead of looking for new positions. Even if they were thinking about switching jobs just a few months ago, most people feel more secure staying put given the current economic environment.
“Candidly, it’s probably going to be a candidate’s market for a while,” she said.
To read the full article, click here.