10 Qualities Leaders Need During Tough Times

June 15, 2022

10 Qualities Leaders Need During Tough Times

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston S. Churchill

Tough times are defining moments in leadership. It is during turning points that a leader’s true measure is tested, whether he or she can lead the team through turbulent times and towards greater heights.

When tough times come, like the pandemic in 2020 and the inflation and recession this year, leaders need to be ready to adapt and embrace changes for survival and, in the long term, for growth.

As C.S. Lewis said, “Hardships often prepare people for an extraordinary destiny.”

Here are some of the qualities people look for in a leader when times are rough.


A leader needs to step up and be resilient during periods of uncertainty. Changes are expected in any aspect of life, but in businesses, change is an opportunity for growth. Knowing how to bend while still keeping that attitude of looking ahead can be what makes or breaks your team and your business.

Reliable and Trustworthy

Anxiety is normal when things are tough. All the more reason your team needs a rock they can trust and rely on. They need a leader who is consistent, responsible, yet still human–someone who knows when to be vulnerable and how to show humility.

Compassion and Empathy

Even in a professional setting, remember that the members of the team you are leading are people. They have emotions and personal lives that might be as turbulent as their professional  lives. While it is a given to separate personal from work, sometimes, things slip through the cracks when it becomes overwhelming. A little bit of compassion and empathy goes a long way.

Establishes a Realistic Vision that Inspires Hope and Optimism

It is easy to drown in worry and anxiety when you don’t have a clear goal you are holding on to. A realistic vision can help inspire hope and keep optimism at healthy levels in the workplace. 

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.” – Yogi Berra 

Honor and Accountability

Being compassionate doesn’t mean you put blinders on your team. They are professionals who have faced and overcome challenges of their own. Be honest about the current situation, and make sure your team has accountability. Being transparent and willing to carry your share of the burden is the best and fastest way to survive the rough journey.

Clear Communication

When things are tough, it can get pretty hectic in the workplace. It is easy to forget to relay information or remind someone of a deadline or task. Having a clear communication system where everyone can listen and be heard is important. 

Stable and Knows How to Prioritize

Merriam-Webster defines stability as “the strength to stand or endure.” In more scientific terms, it is the ability to maintain balance in both static and dynamic situations. Tough times call for stable leaders who can think rationally and see clearly which things need to be prioritized. 

Creativity and Flexibility

Innovation happens when a strong need arises. It takes a certain amount of thinking outside the box and flexibility to make this happen. Tony Robbins said, “Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible to your approach.” Keeping an open mind and a little bit of unorthodox thinking can be the key to survival and growth during tough times.

Inspires the Best in People

A great leader doesn’t just inspire hope but also knows how to motivate and draw out the maximum potential of his or her people. When things look grim, the ability to keep your team going at their best is what makes a leader a cut above the rest.

Spots the Opportunities

Lastly, keep an eye out for opportunities that can pull your team out of the rough waters and on to greater heights. Skill is important, and being prepared is a must, but recognizing good opportunities when they appear is an edge not all leaders have.

I hope that hard times will become an opportunity for growth for you and your team.

Thank you for reading A Brilliant Tribe.