The requirements behind no-compromise leadership provide the thinking and behavioral foundation to lead your company through these challenging times.

Leading a business or organization is like figuring out the pieces to an intricate jigsaw puzzle. If you tenaciously work at it, keep testing which pieces fit together, and identify those subtle clues, you will solve that puzzle. And once you are familiar with the inner workings of the puzzle, you can assemble it faster every time you play.

The economy has taken your familiar business puzzle, carved it into smaller and even more intricate pieces-then flipped it all upside down. You cannot even see the clues in the picture. The economic position we are in changed an already complex puzzle game into something that can be truly unsettling for many. But there is a solution: no-compromise leadership.

If it Needs to Be Done, Get it Done

In economic times like these, your leadership grit will be put to the test. The question is, will the no-compromise leader in you rise to the challenge? No compromise is an either/or mode of leadership thinking and behavior. Compromise or no compromise. Get it done or procrastinate. Address the problem or allow it to fester and grow. Take control and lead or be held hostage. Be tenacious and courageous or live in fear. Experience the thrill of accomplishment or the anxiety of allowing time and opportunities to slip away.

To better understand what no-compromise leadership is, here is a list of 10 requirements. Each requirement raises the bar higher to make you stretch. Collectively, they provide the thinking and behavioral foundation to lead your company through these challenging times.

1. Clarity: Have absolute clarity on where you’re taking your company.

Having absolute clarity on where you are taking your company is what distinguishes the no-compromise leader from other leaders. Having absolute clarity of your objectives and action plans brings the vision and mission of the company into the highest level of alignment. Absolute clarity is like business GPS. It sets the where and the how.

Absolute clarity ensures that the company does not wander off course or make decisions that are not in alignment with its vision, such as expanding too fast or entering unknown markets. Decisions or course changes remain true to the vision and mission.

2. Values: If you want them, live them.

When you admire a business for its uncompromising quality, relentless customer service and delivering what was promised when it was promised, what you are actually admiring is the culture created and governed by its values. That level of refined values-based behavior does not just happen; it is designed and meticulously cared for. Most importantly, it begins at the top.

Tampering with the values of a business is much like tampering with the forces of nature. Compromise values anywhere in your company and minute changes, often called the butterfly effect, can cause a tidal wave of otherwise avoidable issues, problems and drama.

Here are some common examples of compromising behavior that will degrade the values of your company:

Stealing or embezzling from your own company.

Making up the rules as you go.

Not keeping your word or outright lying.

Overriding the authority of others without their knowledge.

“Do as I say, not as I do” mixed messages.

3. Accountability: If it needs to be done, get it done.

Failure to be accountable and do what needs to be done is the ultimate compromise for a business leader. It contaminates the very fabric of the business culture because the leader’s propensity to compromise, and sets the behavior standard for the entire company.

Procrastination, or simply avoiding difficult decisions or actions, is behavior that breeds compromise. Living by requirement number three is non-negotiable for the no-compromise leader. A leader is defined by his or her resolve, tenacity and courage to get things done.

4. Transparent: No excuses when you compromise. Own it.

Excuses are an easy way to justify and explain away compromising behavior. The true no-compromise leader rises above the masses to openly acknowledge and take responsibility for his or her compromises. They own it: “I screwed up. It was a bad decision. I was wrong.”

Owning their compromises creates a level of transparency that reveals their human side, that they are not infallible-that they have no hidden agenda. Owning it ends the drama and related stress, much like hitting a huge pressure release valve. More than anything, it builds trust.

5. Culture: Don’t destroy from within.

Leaders that refuse to confront the reality of what is happening in their own companies are enabling negative behaviors to contaminate their cultures. Even worse is when leaders see the problem and fail to act. It does not matter how successful your business is or how wonderful you believe your culture to be, it is vulnerable. As a leader, it is your responsibility to protect its culture and to do so at all cost.

Your business culture is:

A truly dynamic entity that embodies the heart and soul of your company.

The attitude that either wows customers or drives them away.

The energy source that not only powers your business but links all behaviors and thinking to a common purpose.

What attracts and retains the best employees.

What rallies the collective energy of the business to achieve breakthrough goals and to drive growth.

What carries the business through those inevitable tough times.

What touches customers in that special way that keeps them coming back for more.

What communicates the who, what and why of your business to every employee and the world around it.

Just as computers are vulnerable to virus attacks, so are business cultures.

6. Unity: Don’t be dictatorial and inflexible.

Becoming a no-compromise leader does not mean that you must become an imposing messenger of darkness who demands unquestioned, unrelenting and absolute obedience.

If your first reaction to no compromise is hesitation for fear of shifting to a leadership style that is too dictatorial and inflexible, ponder this. When integrity, trust, compassion, ethics, tenacity and courage merge, they form the framework for no-compromise leadership. That framework would be torn apart by the dynamics and warp-speed pace of change in business if it was incapable of flexing. Everything changes. One set of behaviors might work fine today but not tomorrow. The no-compromise leader must be open to and ready to embrace change, no matter how fast it comes.

7. Focus: Avoid office-itis.

Office-itis is what happens to leaders that lose their focus. It is when they get bogged down in day-to-day minutia or other projects that disconnects them from the current reality and performance of the business.

Think you are immune to office-itis because you do not work in an office? Think again. Whenever your daily work routine disconnects you from the action and dynamics of the business, you have a case of office-itis.

The best prevention for office-itis is to consistently maintain the sense of urgency of the business. Communication, information flow and accountability must never be compromised.

8. Strategic: Manage what’s on your plate.

If you had to pick one word to describe your leadership work style, would it be superhero? Do you just love to pile on the work and the projects? Is so much crammed into your daily schedule that it is a challenge to give your focused attention to conversations and tasks?

In reality, superheroes resemble an overloaded speedboat. Rather than gaining speed until it planes over the water, an overburdened speedboat leaves nothing but an impressive wake in its path as it struggles to push through the water. That impressive wake then becomes an obstacle that others are forced to deal with every time their superhero passes by.

9. Resolute: Be tenacious and courageous.

If you are feeling the effects of the economy, you can do something about it-but only if you shift into no-compromise mode and lead your company with confidence and some out-of-the-box thinking. This is no time to hunker down. It is time to innovate, adapt and grow.

10. Inspiring: Lead with passion.

Passion fuels a higher calling and a natural enthusiasm to all that you do. So much so that others can sense and capture that same passion. The no-compromise leader’s passion attracts and engages others in the most positive way. That shared passion then lifts the performance of the entire company. Consider any great leader in history, business or otherwise, and you will find an innate passion as the driving force behind his accomplishments.

As you can see by the 10 requirements, there is a higher level of thinking and behavior woven into the DNA of no-compromise leadership. Rather than rigid, no-compromise leaders are compassionate and flexible with an unwavering sense of purpose to be the best, inspire the best and to win the game. They earn respect through consistency, integrity and trust. They create unflappable and dynamic cultures. They are certainly tenacious and courageous. They get things done because they expect nothing less than the best from themselves and those who they lead. More importantly, no-compromise leaders will be the ones leading healthy companies through these tough economic times.

No-Compromise Economic Offensive

To counteract the natural tendency of business owners and consumers to hunker down until the economy recovers, mount your own no-compromise economic offensive.

If you believe in the law of attraction, continuing to “think” recession will only bring more recession. Why not think “recovery,” get proactive and bring a return of the good times that much sooner? Simply put, smart business players will seize the moment while the competition waits for the storm to pass. And getting aggressive in your strategies and tactics today will help you emerge from the recession fit and strong while other survey the damage and regroup.

Here are some red-hot strategies to mount your own no-compromise economic offensive:

Business as usual is as bad as hunkering down. How many gas crises does it take for the big automakers to learn a lesson? Now they are stuck with massive inventories of gas-guzzling hulks when they should have been leading the charge to hybrids and electric. If you think clients will just keep coming and spending because you are great, it is time to sound the call to battle stations. There is no difference between gas-guzzling hulks and an appointment book full of white space.

There is another 20%-if you go for it. There is always more business to be had when the leader shifts to no-compromise thinking and behavior. But that means rallying and energizing the troops with a bold vision backed by clearly defined expectations. Want to add another 20% to revenues? Then jettison the “they won’t buy in” thinking and get unstuck. Employees want to be lead and they want to perform. It is time for that no-compromise leader in you to emerge and make things happen.

Create 90-day mini-games. Mounting an offensive means taking action that you can track and measure right now. Build two or three mini-games per quarter. Focus on driving critical numbers in each of the four business outcomes: productivity, profitability, staff retention and customer loyalty. Build your scoreboards, super-charge your daily huddles, make accountability the rule-and watch the recession as it passes by.

It’s time to go no compromise

So, is it hunker down to maintain status quo or go on the no-compromise offensive to find the solution to this new and more intricate puzzle the economy has thrown at you?

As the leader, it is a choice that you and you alone must make. Decide and everything else is all about taking action and accountability. And do not forget to celebrate and have fun. You and your team will deserve it.

Tech Tips

No-compromise leadership is comprised of 10 requirements:

1. Clarity: Have absolute clarity on where you’re taking your company.

2. Values: If you want them, live them.

3. Accountability: If it needs to be done, get it done.

4. Transparent: No excuses when you compromise. Own it.

5. Culture: Don’t destroy from within.

6. Unity: Don’t be dictatorial and inflexible.

7. Focus: Avoid office-itis.

8. Strategic: Manage what’s on your plate.

9. Resolute: Be tenacious and courageous.

10. Inspiring: Lead with passion.