Developing Leadership Skills in Times of Constraints: 5 Practical Tips


In the world of leadership, having the freedom to make decisions and take action is often considered a crucial factor. However, constraints can also serve as a valuable tool for developing leadership skills. In fact, navigating challenging situations can help leaders become more resilient, adaptable, and effective. Here are five practical tips for developing your leadership skills in times of constraints.

1. Prioritize Divergent Thinking Skills

When faced with constraints, leaders who can think outside the box and come up with new, innovative ideas are more likely to succeed. Divergent thinking is the ability to generate multiple solutions to a problem. Leaders who encourage their team to develop this skill can foster a culture of creativity and innovation. To develop this skill, consider brainstorming sessions with your team where every idea is welcome, regardless of how unconventional it may seem. Encourage your team to build on each other’s ideas and generate a wider range of solutions that can help overcome constraints.

2. Communication is Key

Effective communication is a crucial aspect of leadership, especially during times of constraints. Keeping your team informed about any changes or challenges can help build trust and keep everyone on the same page. This includes being transparent about the situation and providing regular updates. Leaders should also be open to feedback and willing to listen to the concerns of their team. Encourage active listening and be open to feedback and suggestions. This can help navigate difficult times and build stronger relationships with your team.

GLEAC: Which are the 3 must-have soft skills for newbies looking to enter your sector (business consultancy)?

Lameen Abdul-Malik: Using integrity as the foundation, I’d propose:

  • Communication, so that people know who you are and what is going on – builds trust.
  • Adaptability, so that people know that you don’t know everything and can learn from anyone – this builds trust again.
  • Work Ethic, always being prepared to deliver your best in what you do – this builds trust again.

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3. Use Constraints to Your Advantage

Constraints can actually provide a competitive advantage for businesses looking to stand out. Limited resources can force leaders to think creatively and find innovative solutions that set their business apart from the competition. Embrace constraints as an opportunity to challenge yourself and your team to think outside the box and find new ways to succeed.

For instance, during the pandemic, some restaurants implemented online ordering and delivery systems to make it easier for customers to order their food. These innovations not only helped the businesses survive the pandemic but also gave them a competitive edge that they may not have had otherwise.

4. Lead by Example

One of the most important aspects of leadership is leading by example. It’s crucial to show your team that you’re willing to work alongside them to find solutions. Additionally, being resilient in the face of challenges is critical. As a leader, you need to bounce back from setbacks and keep pushing forward, inspiring your team to do the same and develop their resilience.

In 2008, when the global financial crisis hit, many businesses faced significant financial constraints. Leaders who were able to stay resilient and maintain a positive attitude were more likely to succeed.

5. Embrace Decision-Making

Constraints can limit a leader’s capacity to make decisions, but they can also help develop decision-making skills. Prioritizing and making tough decisions can help you develop this skill set. It can also help build resilience and adaptability, which are essential qualities for effective leadership. By embracing constraints and using them as an opportunity for growth, leaders can become stronger and more effective in their roles.

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