How do you lead when the rules change?

Everyone wants to perform up to expectations.  That’s why it’s so important to know the rules. Leaders must, therefore, be very clear to explain the expectations they have for their team.

Some might say that the rules they will be judged against should be detailed, exact, straightforward, and never ever change during the middle of the game. If you have been in business for any number of years, you might want to respond with, “Can I have that?”

We can’t always control the rules that govern our businesses, or our day to day lives in some cases.  Anyone who just lived through – or is living through – the impacts of the Great Recession knows that the rules can change quickly when outside forces move.

Experience teaches us that in many cases rules should be guidelines as opposed to absolutes. 

Former Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “The young man knows the rules but the old man knows the exceptions.”

There are the four must do’s for a leader to be prepared for setting and re-setting expectations for their team when the rules change:

  1. Be clear about your foundational values – when the rules change you will need these as your anchor.
  2. Develop a leadership style of your own by studying other successful leaders in times of changing expectations – take what works for you and leave behind what doesn’t.
  3. Fill your leadership tool belt with many options to choose from when the rules change – it’s best to act quickly when the rules are changing around you.
  4. Invest the time needed with your team to explain why the rules are changing, then work together to re-set expectations.
2 Responses to How do you lead when the rules change?
  1. John Blay

    Really rules directs us on our paths to the goals we set. The ultimate is to respect your own rules to lead you to success. That was a very good peace. Thanks.

    • admin

      John I like the way you phrased this, set your goals first then have rules that achieve those goals.