Leading in Challenging Times • Northwest Indiana Business Magazine

Leading in Challenging Times

Perhaps its an age old saying, but “Leaders Lead.” Success when facing challenges takes leaders who act.

Are there reasons why leaders need to act? Certainly. For example, leaders have access to lots of information about the issues and opportunities. Others may have access to the information but may not have time to digest the information. Instead, people rely on their leaders to study the issues and make informed decisions. This does not relieve leaders of the responsibility to gather input or to explain the decision openly once it has been made. So leaders must be diligent and must communicate, but leaders are asked—indeed, required—to act.

Leaders need to be looking forward, thinking about how to make life better for all. Here in Northwest Indiana, this means looking at partnerships, building beyond the limits of “my” company, agency, town or county. Only by seeing the future, bridging from the past and doing so with others can we leave a legacy for which future generations are thankful. So leaders must have vision and partner with others, but leaders are asked—indeed, required—to act.

Further, leaders need to act because those around them are looking for a decision, for leadership. Whenever one assumes a leadership role he or she is automatically empowered by those being led. And, though empowered to act, the leader also gains the responsibility to act wisely with the best interests of those being led at the core of every decision. So leaders must act ethically, but leaders are asked—indeed, required—to act.

Yet, some who hold titles that imply leadership refuse to exercise leadership. Some refuse because of the risk (perhaps even the likelihood) that people will disagree with the decisions. Some refuse to lead because the situation requires a change. Others simply will not commit themselves to studying the issues and building a vision of what is best for those they lead. Any of these represent a failure of the trust placed in the leader by those around them. So leaders must be bold and committed, but leaders are asked—indeed, required—to act.

Certainly there are examples of strong leadership. For example, the working relationships between the cities of Hammond and Whiting have benefited both. The United Ways in Northwest Indiana have achieved more than otherwise possible by partnering with each other. The success achieved by environmental and business leaders in protecting the Great Lakes has been deservedly praised by many across the nation. Each of these examples shows that despite risks and uncertainties, leaders pursued important goals and achieved success by deciding to act, by leading.

Each of you is a leader in your own way. Leaders exist in business, government, non-profits, education and all other arenas. Talk with those around you who will be impacted by a decision. Study issues, learn the situation. Consider what is best for those you lead. But in the end, make the decision and be prepared to explain that decision to all who ask about it, all who are impacted. Only with strong leadership will we move forward as a region.

Mark T. Maassel is Of Counsel for Krieg DeVault LLP in Schererville.


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