Leading In Difficult Times With Steve Armstrong

Answers From Leadership Episode 31

Steve Armstrong is a Calgary-based speaker, educator, and consultant. He’s skilled at helping leaders develop followers into leaders and building dedicated, loyal, and remarkable teams.

Through the lessons learned from 35 years as a leader, soldier, and humanitarian, Steve has the unique ability to inspire and teach others to lead.

Leadership requires you to lead in tough times

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Show Notes:

Steve, what else do you want listeners to know about you?

A couple of things is after a 22-year army career and retiring as a company sergeant major and a career with the Canadian Red Cross, I’ve spent the last couple of years teaching and developing others to become a better leader.

What does leadership look like to you?

It’s not a bunch of old, dead white guy quotes. To me, leadership is actually accomplishing something. Leadership skills come from motivating and engaging people.

Can you share some of your experiences leading in the tough times of disasters?

There’s 2 things I would say. One is to be clear about what you know what you’re there to do. Explain in clear language what each person is there to do.

Mostly, as the leader, in those situations, you state the objective but you have to trust the people will get it done.

The other thing around this is if someone has done a good job, then that’s good enough.

I have to trust people will do their job. It might not be the way I would do it. That’s okay.

A lot of leaders struggle with clearly communicating what they want done. How do you clearly communicate your objectives?

A small plane crashed into Lake Ontario and when the plane crashed, the Ontario Provencial Police were responsible for the incident. The duty inspector actually wrote on the big whiteboard “Our mission is to recovery the casualties, investigate the accident, and treat the families with the utmost respect.” Once they got a little bit off-track, they were able to focus back on the mission.

Often times leaders will communicate once and hope it cascades down. That’s not acceptable.

Your job as a leader is to be out there, talking and walking and being with your people.

These are the kind of questions you should be asking: What are they doing and why are they doing what they’re doing?

You’ve faced some amazingly difficult situations. Were you scared leading in those times?

Yeah, I guess so. To be honest, sure… But to be fair, outside of the military seldom was I personally directly in harm’s way. Scared probably isn’t the word I would use. Maybe fear if I was scared someone would be impacted by the disaster wouldn’t be treated right or put in a difficult situation.

In my life, I’ve learned somehow to focus on the mission. I worry about my personal foibles afterward.

What are some ways a leader can communicate he cares for his people?

The first is to connect them to the organization and mission. The other way is to show a high level of trust and confidence in them.

The third thing I would say is empathy. Get off your butt, get out of your office, and go see how people are working and ask them what’s going on in their workplace and lives.

What’s one book that has impacted your leadership?

Vimy by Pierre Burton

Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what do you wish you would have known then?

Calm down. You’re not that important. And you’re not as good as you think you are.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with listeners before we go?

I would offer any of your listeners if they go to stevenarmstrong.ca a free to download my book You Can’t Lead from Behind.

Drop me a line at steve@stevenarmstrong.ca. On the website, there’s a series of blogs as well.

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