Leading in Inclement Weather (The Clock in the Storm)

never give up phrase on blackboard


During World War II England experienced a traumatic yet triumphant era that will never be forgotten by the world or its people. The season of trials could have been tragedy without the triumph if not for a man who had the courage to lead by example with his passion and his resolve. Winston Churchill defied the tyranny of Nazi Germany by leading his country to believe that they, and not the fascists, were the hunters and that the United Kingdom would claim victory. Churchill was able to do this through a deep belief that destiny was on their side and he was able to influence his people by displaying a heroic confidence while the country shuttered in fear at the thought of the German War Machine. The Germans had just started to bomb London and the Axis Powers were moving through France crushing anyone in their path. Churchill proclaimed, “we will fight them by land, we will fight them by sea, we will fight them until every existence of the Nazi regime is destroyed.” An incredible declaration when the lives of millions hung in the balance. The result was an inspired country that believed in their ultimate survival. This belief and the effort by the Allied Powers to lock arms and fight the Nazis led to victory and the survival of a nation.

When Leaders are Needed Most
Leaders are sometimes needed when things are moving smoothly, but leaders are always needed in times of trial and when hope begins to dim. When everything feels like it is about to come apart at the seams or when it is evident that the cause may be lost, people turn to their leaders for reassurance and strength. Winston Churchill was the rock for his people when they needed him most. He was his country’s “clock in the storm”. I like to use this analogy because I try to visualize the hands of a clock, (tick, tick, tick, tick), that if in good working order, never stop despite what is happening around them. The hands move the same in the sun or the storm.  The common reaction in crisis is for the leader to permeate a spirit of fear and anxiousness. Leaders sometimes begin to blame everything and everybody, with or without cause. We have to learn to manage our emotions when a tempest forms. If you are looking for an opportunity to lead, wait for the next cloud to form on the horizon and be prepared to provide Faith, Strength and Assurance to the people in your boat.

Emotions and Relationships
I am sure that most of us can remember when we failed to control our emotions in times of strife. I can think of an instance where one of my teams missed earnings and we knew that our existence as a new start up was going to be in question. I responded by gathering the group together and restating our predicament while I told them that if they did not increase activity, we would not be here in 6 months. I wore my thoughts of fear on my sleeve and my people could hear it in my voice. I displayed emotions that do not convey strength and optimism. I became a detriment to our people, a threat to relational momentum and thus an antagonist to our survival as a company. It is fine to take inventory of the reality of a situation and talk about the tactics that will lead to success, but I should have been the encouraging voice of strength that reassured our validity of our cause and that our mission would be successful.

The Bottom Line
Leaders are humans too. They need an outlet. Leaders should have someone that they can confide or find solace in, but they must guard their doubt and fear in the midst of those they lead. Understanding this one concept is pivitol in building relationships and trust for your initiatives. Master this and you are a giant step closer to becoming the immovable pillar your people need in inclement weather.

Are you currently in a storm?

How are you leading your relationships?

Are you a clock or a flag?


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