Management is always about leadership. During these more difficult times, your leadership can be crucial to the very survival of your company. Leadership is not about style. There’s the George Patton style as well as the Steve Jobs style. They all work if you stick to the basic principals.

In these tough times you have already or will very soon need to take actions that are going to be very unpopular, and the results of which won’t be known for years to come. You will be comfortable in those decisions if you know you are doing what is right and following your own well-defined principals.

Keep your cool when confronted with seemingly endless troubles that seem to pile on one after another. Some subordinates will make stupid errors. Once it’s been done, the only real approach has to be “What are you going to do to fix it?” There can be nothing worse in your organization than an atmosphere of total fear. People cannot perform properly when they have total fear of repercussions from the boss. Inherently you already know this, but it is surprising how many managers don’t recognize their contributions to this state of affairs.

Robert A. Kierlin, the founder and chairman of The Fastenal Company, wrote a book The Power of Fastenal People. In it, he summarizes his David Letterman 10 rules about leadership.

1. CHALLENGE rather than CONTROL
2. Treat everyone as your equal
3. Stay out of the spotlight
4. Share the rewards
5. LISTEN then SPEAK
6. See the unique humanness in all persons
7. Develop empathy
8. Suppress your ego
9. Let people learn
10. Remember how little you know

These can be very simple rules for life as well. How well can you follow that guideline? How many bosses have you had that ran that sort of operation? Most of us will have a few weaknesses that will fall outside of these principals, but the majority of good leaders probably will have most of these principals as part of their day-to-day dealings with their subordinates. Mr. Kierlin built a $400 million company around them.