Valor: The Underrated Executive Skill

How do you approach tough situations?

Do you hit them head on? Or do you wait until it becomes a crisis and deal with that?

Valor is the fourth “V” in the executive mandate: Vision, Value, Velocity, Valor. We examine these in detail in the Executive Strategy Summit.

As a leader, your team looks to you as an exemplar of how to handle challenging situations, whether financial, personal, team, customer, vendor, competitor, or politics. Do you lead a culture of head-in-the-sand or do-the-right-thing?

Here are some examples of tough situations:

A business co-owner is underperforming and damaging the culture, impacting the team’s morale.

A salesperson hasn’t hit their numbers for three years, yet has a sick family member and is the sole source of income.

A vendor, which writes large marketing program checks, just exposed critical private data to other competitors.

The largest customer just cancelled their contract, bringing the services in-house, leaving the company with excess capacity and a looming cash shortfall.

Recognize variations of these situations? Tough times!

Consider these four principles when facing tough situations:

1) Consider the big picture. As the executive leader, you’ve got to balance the needs of the individual, the team, the company, the shareholders, and the planet for the greatest good. Surgeons cut healthy tissue to get to the cancer. Generals send innocent boys to battle to win the war. It’s complex, which is why it requires valor.

2) Act sooner rather than later. While you might be tempted to let the scenario play out, it’s often kinder to act now, rather than wait. The situation chews up your cognitive capacity, other people sense the impact but don’t know how to react, and it won’t get better. Often, my clients tell me, “I wish that I had done that sooner.” No one has ever said, “I should have waited.”

3) Formulate the plan. Walk through the possible reactions and have your responses in order, from a simple agreement to a nuclear option. This means getting the confidential perspective from your inner circle and legal counsel so that you can make an informed decision. Sun Tzu in The Art of War wisely advised that a war is won before stepping on the battlefield, and to never alert your “foe” as to your plans.

4) Make room for all parties to retain their dignity. Stripping away dignity invokes the desire for revenge, a costly result for all parties. Focus on the offending behaviors, not the personality. Yes, it will be uncomfortable, noisy, and “ugly,” yet keep to your objective — the outcome you seek — while allowing them to make amends or move on without insult.

Facing tough situations with valor is the hallmark of a valued and valuable leader. Leadership isn’t tested until successfully meeting these situations. How have you… and will you fare?

Every one of my executive coaching clients have tapped me to help boost their valor. If you need help dealing with a tough situation, let’s talk. I’ve got two coaching slots open: first come, first served. Let’s talk.

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