Over the last 20 years, our economy has seen a lot of drastic changes. Those changes have affected nearly every industry operating around the world, leading to layoffs and extended unemployment periods that have created uncertainty and struggles for all.
The unmanned and robotics industry is no different. We are subjected to the same ebbs and flows of the economy as everyone else, while also dealing with the burden of having to wait for regulations to catch up with what our technology is capable of on the aerial side of things. Then there are government cutbacks, and small growth for small business in a playing field that is still so very new. That all translates into shaky periods for our industry, where no job is guaranteed and where employees often have a chip of uncertainty on their shoulders.
Anyone can be a leader when times are thriving and work is plentiful – but it takes someone truly notable to lead, and lead well, during shakier times. And it is those leaders who will nurture the strongest teams, and command the best of the best, through both good times and bad.
So how do you become that leader?
· Lead with Honesty: If you want to be the type of leader others will follow, you have to first earn their trust – which means always holding yourself to a standard of honesty that is unimpeachable. Yes, there may be times when it is best to keep certain details from your employees, but you never want to lead in a way that has you lying to those employees. Don’t make promises you aren’t sure you can keep, and don’t sugarcoat details when it is clear your employees know the score. Be up front and honest whenever possible, even when the news you have to share isn’t great, and you will build a team that believes in what you have to say.
· Lead with Compassion: Being a leader in shaky times is scary, and stressful, and oftentimes downright frustrating. You can feel helpless, and in that helplessness, you can sometimes become cold and bitter – a personal preservation mechanism that has you shutting down in order to protect your own mental well being. But a valued leader is one who resists that urge to shut down and instead remains compassionate about the plight of his or her employees. That doesn’t always mean you can make changes that improve that plight, but it does mean you remain open to and aware of the experiences of those working for you.
· Lead with Wisdom: Being a leader isn’t always fun. It sometimes means making hard choices and occasionally even being the bad guy. But as long as you make those hard choices with wisdom and reason, you will still retain the respect of even those who are most damaged by those choices. Layoffs happen. Work hours get cut. And not every project will be approved. A leader who is leading with wisdom doesn’t play favorites, though, and always defaults to logic and reason when the tough choices are being made.