Leading In the Crisis - Michael Schaffner


Just got back from Sunday Mass, where one of our deacons, IT guy (and my partner in the St Matthias Employment Ministry) John Radvanski, preached about the spiritual significance of Barack Obama's use of the slogan "Yes We Can." It's about saying "Yes" and taking charge of the things we can control, and thereby making a difference.

In that same spirit of courageous leadership, our next voice in the Leading In the Crisis series is IT executive and blogger Michael Schaffner. Mike's blog,Beyond Blinking Lights and Acronyms, "is about Information Technology and how we can align it with the business to make IT an integral partner in transforming a company and in achieving its strategies. Hopefully, we'll also learn a little about transforming IT itself along the way." It has been a favorite of mine for years.

The Courage To Lead – by Mike Schaffner

The credit crunch, the mortgage crisis, and all the recession impacts loom over us everyday and our people look at us for direction. What can we do? We can’t make the banks lend money, we can’t make customers order more and we can’t make everyone’s house payment for them. What do our people expect us to do? Oh woe is us!

We call ourselves leaders; maybe we should simply do that – lead! Being a leader doesn’t mean we have to solve all the problems and have all the answers. It does mean that we need to give our people direction and more importantly help them to do their best. Our biggest task as a leader is to be a coach and a resource.

You may have heard the optimistic phrase, “I choose not to participate in the recession” and there is actually a good deal of wisdom in this seemingly trite saying. Let’s not focus on the issues we can’t fix and instead concentrate on what we can fix.

If we sit in our office and wring our hands over the issues that we have no control over you’ll find your people sitting at their desks doing the same. However, now is the time to find a common goal and to pull your team together to solve the issues they can fix.

Improving customer service, increasing productivity, reducing costs; these are all things within our control and can help get us through this crisis. Maybe, just maybe, if all of us focused our efforts on improving those things we can control the bigger issues may take care of themselves. Give your people direction, give them a goal and help them to get through this as a team. That’s what being a leader is about.

The Serenity Prayer seems especially appropriate in these times, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Do you have the courage to lead?

[Copyright 2009 by Mike Schaffner. All Rights Reserved]

Posted by Terrence Seamon, February 22, 2009

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