My Best Advice for Leaders When Things Are Going Wrong

I’ve been coaching top leaders in almost every industry for decades, and I’ve learned that even when it appears that an organization is running well and its leaders are effective, it’s often a very different story behind the scenes.

Tough times are a fact of life for nearly every organization at some point. And when times get tough, leaders have to get tougher.

I once heard a CEO yell in frustration, “I’m going to walk away from this whole company.” He was over it almost immediately, but his words in that tense moment genuinely frightened his board and team to the point that they began to question his leadership.

Maybe more than at any other time, when things go wrong your words and actions as a leader are critically important. Here’s my best advice for those times:

Face your obligations. Harriet Beecher Stowe said, “When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” Sometimes what is needed most will happen when you face your challenge and own your struggles. Success often lies in your ability to face difficult situations.

Use the struggle to pivot. The uncertainty and uprootedness of moments of crisis have a strange benefit: they make it a great time to change direction. Moving to things that will serve your organization in a different way and pose new challenges—the kind of change that people find frightening under many circumstances—can instead be a welcome source of hope in tough times. Sometimes problems are pushing you directly into the path of opportunities that weren’t visible before.

Change your thinking. It’s easy to turn your thoughts to a dark and negative place when things go wrong, especially if you don’t have the resources or influence to change a tough situation. But in these cases, the only thing you can control is the way you think and respond. However difficult, struggle makes us strong and comes with important lessons. Instead of giving in to negativity, try to view the situation as a chance for you and your team to learn and grow.

Make a plan to move forward. As a leader, you cannot get stuck in a problem but need to be the source of plans and solutions. Problems come and go, but ultimately you won’t be remembered for the problems you faced but the solutions you came up with. Leadership at its best is when you don’t like something and you move ahead and use your influence to do something about it.

Don’t let anything stop you. Whatever the obstacles or challenges, the best time to show determination is when you’re facing your biggest challenges, because the true essence of determination will get you through anything. The difference between impossible and possible lies in a leader’s determination. Some people succeed because they are destined, but most succeed because they are determined.

Lead from within: When things go wrong, become the kind of leader who can make things turn out the best—and make the best of things along the way.

N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR,, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

  1. Chris

    12. Dec, 2018

    Thank you for another great lesson on leadership I am going to have buy your books and read them.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Evelyn Sullivan

    16. Sep, 2019

    Lolly Daskal, I would really like to thank you for sharing your expertise on Leadership. I especially enjoyed learning your teaching on determination in leadership. This saying was great. “The difference between impossible and possible is in a leader’s DETERMINATION. Some people succeed because they are destined, but most succeed because they are DETERMINED.”
    Thanks again, Lolly.

    Reply to this comment

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