Contact Us

Leadership Situations: Essential Skills and Strategies for Success

Decision-making, Problem-solving, Adversity, Difficult situations, Managing change, Adaptability, Resilience, Strategic thinking, Communication skills, Conflict resolution, Delegation, Emotional intelligence, Motivation, Negotiation, Organizational culture, Teamwork, Transparency

To say that the leadership situation has changed is a gross understatement. Some leadership challenges are not new. One must deal with missed deadlines, the occasional disgruntled customer, or miscommunication. However, they’re joined by quiet quitting, employee burnout, supply chain issues, and crisis management fueled by inflation and the continuing fallouts of the pandemic.

Never before has adaptability and resilience been more critical to an organization’s survival. Leadership development must also pivot to meet these challenges by educating leaders about the best ways to manage them. That includes cultivating the necessary skills and strategies to drive team engagement and productivity despite the chaos and formidable headwinds. Let’s begin by redefining the leadership role.


Understanding the Importance of Leadership in Difficult Situations


Leadership has always been about motivating employees. However, it is operated from a top-down approach. Team members may know what they need to do. However, management has failed to share the vision or big picture of how the staff’s contribution fits these goals. Miscommunication and a lack of communication underscore these problems.

Leaders have long often worn blinders to the needs of their people. Perhaps one of the unintended but long-overdue consequences of the pandemic was the wake-up call that organizations were forced to answer. Problem-solving and decision-making aren’t just about keeping a razor focus on the bottom line. It also involves caring about the employees on the frontline and working in the trenches.

The mirror moment happened for the employees, too. It set the stage for the Great Resignation or Reassessment. People started rethinking their lives and how work fits into their purpose. Many times, it’s not aligning with an organization’s vision. Is it any wonder that 96 percent of workers are considering changing jobs? The pandemic exposed a massive chasm between employers and employees.


New Year, New Problems

Before, leadership challenges often revolved around meeting quotas or objectives. However, problem-solving isn’t just about figuring out how to finish a project on time. It has morphed into crisis management in the midst of difficult situations. Adaptability and resilience aren’t just wishful qualities. They are survival tactics.

Leaders must embrace strategic thinking to weather the storm. However, it’s not just one squall. It’s a tumultuous sea of uncertainty and, sometimes, adversity. The way to manage it is to hone your conflict resolution and communication skills. It’s the only way to weather the perils of rising attrition rates. Those who don’t leave practice quiet constraint to give themselves some degree of control.

Leaders must ask themselves how they can hope to succeed if their teams are so disengaged.


Developing the Skills Needed for Leadership in Difficult Situations

Fortunately, you can right the ship, but you must have a plan and determination. The workplace doesn’t become broken overnight, thankfully. Likewise, it takes time and effort to put it back on course. The best to begin is with a self-assessment. Poet Maya Angelou once said, “You can't really know where you're going until you know where you have been.” That’s what this journey is about for you.

Think about it. Your organization probably conducts annual or semi-annual reviews. You sit down with an individual, praise their strengths, and offer constructive feedback about areas of improvement. Great managers involve employees in the process of developing their career paths. When was the last time you did that for yourself?

Self-awareness is a lonely journey, but it doesn’t have to be daunting or scary. However, it does require brutal honesty. What are your skills? What are you especially good at doing? What things do you avoid doing? Why? Kindness starts with you. It’s not wrong or bad to be less than proficient in something. People are complex creatures, but we can’t do everything. 

This assessment will come to the forefront later.

Many have a difficult time with self-awareness because it hurts. It’s a painful truth that what we may dislike in others are often things we disapprove of in ourselves. We’re only human. We want to feel like we’re special or important. If this realization lies below the surface, we may unintentionally degenerate others in whom we see ourselves. 

Great leaders make this self-awareness journey and are better for it.

The benefits to the individual and the organization can profoundly affect its culture of collaboration. They include tangible and intangible assets, such as bolstered employee morale, improved engagement, increased productivity, and trust. Organizations are in crisis mode when you consider that only 33 percent of workers are engaged. The storm flags are up. The time to act is now.


The Skills to Succeed

The concept of great leadership has evolved. The boss you never questioned is an image of the past—hopefully. Today’s definition embraces many skills of the servant leader, including emotional intelligence and active listening. Of course, the pandemic has also impacted our thinking and changed the scope of successful leadership. The skill you need in today’s workplace include the following:

  • Confidence
  • Empathy
  • Problem-solving
  • Conflict resolution
  • Agility
  • Negotiation
  • Employee motivation
  • Critical thinking

That may sound like a tall order. However, they come naturally to the emotionally intelligent individual. They are in charge of their emotions even in the face of adversity and uncertainty. That’s not to say these people don’t get upset or angry. Instead, they assess. 

Norman Vincent Peale reminds us, “Never react emotionally to criticism. Analyze yourself to determine whether it is justified. If it is, correct yourself. Otherwise, go on about your business.” There’s a good reason we refer to self-awareness as a journey and not a destination.


Leadership Styles

People have different leadership styles, which makes them a better fit in certain situations than others. American psychologist William Moulton Marston developed the DISC leadership model as a simple yet powerful way to describe a person’s traits as they relate to others. It categorizes individuals based on whether they’re passive versus active or favorable versus antagonistic.

The value of the DISC theory is its ability to separate managers from leaders. The former are excellent people for getting results and maintaining high standards. The latter describes individuals who motivate and inspire others. They are supportive and enthusiastic while keeping the big picture in mind. At the same time, leaders can be managers, but not all managers are successful leaders. The distinction is vital.

Several other models exist to define leaders and how they interact in the workplace. Perhaps one that every employee has encountered is the Management Theory. These individuals focus on performance. They drive the day-to-day operations to meet deadlines and goals, with the promise of reward for completing them. 

The Contingency Theory involves a leader’s situational awareness and their responses to events. It highlights the strengths of the individual. Some people are better with the fine details, whereas others succeed at conflict resolution and negotiation. They stand out because of these desirable leadership skills.

One of the loftiest models is the Great Man Theory, which identifies the born leaders. Time has blessed us with a few, such as Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. It’s worth noting that many others may exist. We just don’t hear about them. While successful leaders are confident, they are also humble and often cite others.


Competencies and Behaviors

These skills and strategic thinking come into play in many leadership situations. Knowing and understanding what people need is at the core of putting leadership competencies to their best use. Individuals need to be recognized for their talents and skills. There’s a lot to be said for the satisfaction of a job well done. It’s also imperative you acknowledge their accomplishments, large and small.

Your staff also needs to feel independent and empowered by having a say in their workloads and career paths. Sadly, only 30 percent of employees feel involved in the decision-making of their own jobs. We’ve discussed the engagement problem. Interestingly, if the team member has a say, they are 3.5 times more likely to be actively participating in work and not quiet quitting.

The third critical factor is empathy. President Theodore Roosevelt had fitting words on this subject when he said, “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Many employers learned a harsh lesson with the pandemic when they saw the stress, burnout, and disengagement of their staff. Interest in employee well-being is paramount to a culture of collaboration.

Ironically, the traditional model of management disregarded or paid scant attention to all three necessities. Now, the tables are turned. According to LinkedIn’s 2023 Workplace Learning Report, 93 percent of organizations are concerned about employee turnover. Conversely, 94 percent of workers would stay with their companies if they invested in their training and education.


Managing Change and Building Resilience

Fulfilling the needs of your staff is a vital first step. It fosters a healthy workplace environment, which benefits everyone in the organization. The next task is building resilience to cement the stability of the positive employee morale you’ve cultivated. You must focus on the organizational culture and its viability.

Remember that leadership situations include the fodder for a toxic workplace. Unless quit quitting and constraint are nibbed in the bud, you risk increasing employee resentment from a lack of personal accountability. A successful leader must take the reins of managing change to safeguard the sanctity of teamwork that exists in your organization.

It’s a fragile thing. An insensitive remark or misunderstanding could undermine the positivity that currently exists. It’s a situation where your emotional intelligence and conflict resolution skills step up to the plate. Likewise, it’s imperative to appreciate and practice transparency. It’s often misinformation fueling discord. Building resilience depends on clarity derived from a shared vision within a company.


Acting Like a Leader

Unsurprisingly, leaders are reluctant to show their vulnerabilities. Insecurity is often the culprit. We discussed self-awareness and understanding your realistic strengths and shortcomings. We emphasize realistic as it relates to transparency and building trust. Managers sometimes fall into the always-on way of thinking. 

They take calls during vacations or PTO days.

They never fail to respond to a call or email, no matter what the day or time.

They don’t know how to turn on “Do Not Disturb” on their phones.

One of the best ways to ramp up your employees’ motivation is by showing trust. That means resisting the urge to micromanage. Rely on your people to get the job done without constantly requesting updates. Research has shown it can take individuals up to 30 minutes to refocus after a distraction. If your goal is to meet a deadline, you’re doing the very thing to make sure it doesn’t happen.

The other thing that great leaders understand is the importance of delegation. Assigning a task to someone else is not a sign of weakness. It’s a gesture of trust. It is empowering to an individual for someone to put them in charge. The leader’s role is still secure and valid. The difference is embracing the power of team or shared leadership.

We don’t have to tell you that being a manager is stressful. Burnout happens just as much in the C-suite as any place else on the corporate ladder. A wise leader makes the best use of the talents around them. It’s far better to put someone else on the job if they have a broader skillset or more experience with a project’s subject than for an insecure manager to struggle with it.



Being a leader in today’s workplace has changed dramatically. Uncertainty is a reality, requiring adaptability and resilience to cope. The scope of leadership situations has broadened, necessitating different approaches. However, it’s more important than ever to nurture these traits and qualities with leadership development.

Kutsko Consulting has the tools and information to help. Our team can help you give your leaders the guidance they need to be the best they can be. Contact us today to discuss your organization’s needs. Our free preview course can show you the possibilities of experienced leadership coaching.






Free Preview

Sign up now and get access to our Free Preview as well as the freshest tips and tricks delivered to your inbox once a week. Our weekly newsletter is trusted by thousands of managers, executive leaders, and learning & development professionals. 

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.