Leadership During Times of Stress

Here's how you can lead during times of stress

Being an entrepreneur is always challenging, add on family responsibilities, school commitments and child care fiascos, the life of a modern entrepreneurial mom is down right stressful. Being a leader during stressful times in business is key, understanding that concept and making it happen are two totally different things. I decided to interview Charmaine Hammond on how to be a great leader to achieve your goals as an entrepreneur. Charmaine is the owner of Hammond International Inc, a Canadian consulting and training company specializing in personal, business/professional, and organizational development.

You specialize in consulting to leaders on how to motivate their teams to overcome adversity. Any tips you can offer entrepreneurial women on managing their teams?

There are different types of teams in business. Many entrepreneurs are moving to teams that include VAs (virtual assistants), or contracted specific services. Regardless of the structure of the team, it is my belief that there are some essentials in leading teams through adversity.

Resilient teams are those that will Bounce Forward(TM) through change, challenge, conflict and crisis. Here are some tips that will help teams bounce forward:

• Engage the team (invite input and suggestions, let the team know how they can help)
• Anticipate challenges and be prepared

• Communicate, communicate and communicate some more- when communication is open and timely there is less opportunity for assumptions, rumours or misunderstandings

• See adversity as an opportunity to grow and learn- some entrepreneurs chose to view the economic down turn as an opportunity to be more creative and in doing so they had a more profitable and productive year than in past. 

• Have a plan to move beyond the adversity, and let your team in on it. Openness and transparency go a long way.

• Recognize the team- their gifts, talents and contributions. Often leaders and business owners can become so focused on the adversity that is being managed that accomplishments are not recognized.

You also specialize in consulting to leaders on how to solve problems and find solutions. Every entrepreneur faces challenges, many face enormous adversity. What would you recommend to someone planning on owning a business and possibly facing adversity and those embroiled in something that challenges them to their core?

It is true that entrepreneurs will face adversity, however, sometimes this can be sprinkled with the most valuable and profound learnings. Having a business coach or mentor to discuss adverse situations, especially those that are challenging their core (e.g. values issues) can be time and resources well spent. Have a support system, this is critical. I have a number of different supports that are of great benefit to me.

What would you recommend new entrepreneurs do in order to facilitate better communication with their teams, business partners and life partners/husbands?

Communication is an essential component of every relationship- business, personal and spousal. Entrepreneurs are often challenged in that their business and marriage often become meshed therefore straining relationships. Some tips to facilitate better communication include:

• Don't sweep issues under the rug- the rug just becomes bumpy (a hazard) and the issue still remains. Instead, address issues as they arise.

• Communicate with the person the issue is about- don't involve others unless they are directly part of the situation.

• Be honest, be accurate and be clear.

• Avoid making assumptions, and if you do, take time to check out the assumption and get accurate information.

• Avoid inflammatory words such as "YOU...", "should of..."

• Avoid generalizations such as "we all..." or "everyone thinks...." or "you always..." or "you never...."

• Apply Steven Covey's strategy- "seek first to understand, then to be understood" which means seek to understand the other person's perspective before your own

• Be clear (crystal clear) on the issue to be resolved

Understanding that your choice to become an entrepreneurial mom will face you with challenges you have never experienced before is half the battle, learning to remain calm and to use your tools at communication and problem resolution can make those challenges easier, quicker and cheaper to overcome.

Kathryn Bechthold is the creator of The Mompreneur® Networking Group Inc. and The Mompreneur® Magazine. She provides information, inspiration and education to Mompreneurs® looking for success with running their own businesses and balancing their family lives.

She has been nominated for a Bennett Jones Emerging Enterprise of the Year Award, has begun to take her magazine across Canada and started a  Mompreneur® Networking group all while raising her 2 year old daughter. She’s a champion skinned knee kisser and an award winning boogeyman chaser!