Leading – and Succeeding – in a Downturn

Spacer

Don’t leave your team stranded.

The truth is that no one factor makes a company admirable. But if you were forced to pick the one that makes the most difference, you’d pick leadership.

Warren Bennis, Organizational Consultant and Author

As organizations adapt to changing business environments, the need for effective leadership is especially critical.

When times are good, leading a company or a team is exciting. Resources are plentiful, customers are satisfied, and opportunity is everywhere. However, when the economic conditions are challenging, this excitement and positive energy tend to weaken. People often feel the pressures of work, and they fear for their job security. These worries and fears present a major challenge for leaders who want to keep their teams on target and productive.

Good leadership is good leadership, regardless of the economic climate. However, during difficult times, top-notch leadership skills become even more important. Second-rate leaders might be able to keep a company going in a strong economy, but you need high-performing leaders to succeed in tough times.

Of course, you need leaders who can control costs and conserve cash. However you also need leaders who see opportunity – and who will strive to seize that opportunity – despite all the negativity. You need leaders who remain committed to their people. And you need leaders who can transfer their own positive outlook to the people around them.

Create New Opportunities

In an economic downturn, you need to conserve your resources so that you can survive. However, you also need to position yourself to benefit as competitors falter, and to be ready when the economy recovers. An economy in decline is often an opportunity to regroup, rethink, and renew. To take advantage of new opportunities, consider doing the following:

  • Review your strategy – Figure out which objectives you’re meeting, which ones need more emphasis, and which ones you should reconsider or drop as the environment around you changes.
  • Lead by example – Now, more than ever, you have to lead ‘from the front’ by setting an example. Take personal responsibility for customer care and contact. Actively pursue new business. Show that you’re willing to make extra effort to commit to the organization’s success.
  • Add value – One of the ways that leaders can gain greater market share and improve operations is by really listening to their customers. Look for innovative ways to add value without adding costs, and win customers who aren’t being well served by your competitors.
  • Use market conditions to create a stronger business model for the future – If you’re a senior manager, consider looking for bargains, in terms of mergers and acquisitions, which will improve your company’s future competitive position. Whatever level you’re at, negotiate keener rates with suppliers, which you can continue to enjoy after the economy recovers.
  • Take the opportunity to trim costs – Encourage cost-consciousness within your team or organization. Now is a great time to do this – everyone knows that times are tough, and people will be more willing than ever to cut unnecessary costs.
  • Implement a continuous improvement plan – Look at your systems and processes to find efficiency opportunities. Lead the way in building a culture of continuous improvement. You can use these savings to pursue the numerous opportunities created by the downturn.

Commit to Your People

Negative messages are all too common during economic downturns. People are losing their jobs, unemployment rates are going up, and personal and corporate bankruptcies are increasing. This can weaken morale, both in the workplace and in society as a whole, and it can tip people into panic, severely damaging their productivity.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Don’t abandon your people. Use this time to reinforce how important they are, and build the skills they need to help the company survive.

  • Invest time in leadership skills training – Leadership is key to success. The better your leaders are, the better it is for you, your team, and the organization. OK, you may not want to spend a lot of cash on leadership training, however, when times are slow, you may be able to invest much more time than before in management and leadership development.
  • Retain your best people – Part of good leadership is keeping costs under control. However, profits are made by your people. Don’t cut back on attracting quality people, and make every effort to retain your best team members by treating them with dignity and respect.
  • Be creative with recruitment and retention – Salary increases may not be possible, but you can do lots of other things to create attractive work conditions.
     
  • Build a motivating workplace – It’s easy to focus too much on specific tasks and the bottom line, especially at a time when resources are limited and “cash is king”. As a leader, however, you can’t let that stop you finding ways to motivate your workforce. Sirota’s Three-Factor Theorysuggests the following:

    • Treat people fairly – When you can’t avoid layoffs, give people as much warning as you sensibly can. Talk honestly about what’s happening, and how cutbacks will affect them. And if you’re cutting people, try to cut the volume and scope of the work you do so that you don’t overload those who are left.
    • Provide useful work for which people are recognized – Be careful about reassigning the workloads of people who have been laid off. Take time to determine who is best suited for which tasks, and remember to give lots of praise. Match people’s skills and interests with the work you need done.
    • Foster good relationships at work – If you have to stop the Friday company-sponsored lunch at a restaurant, replace it with a low-cost potluck event. Try to avoid cutting it entirely.

For more ideas on building motivation in the workplace, and improving individual motivation and performance, see Herzberg’s Motivators and Hygiene Factors.

Project Positive Energy

Good leaders provide hope and vision. These two qualities can keep a workplace going, even during tough times. People need someone they can trust – someone who is inspiring, and knows how to get things done. As a leader, make it a priority to do the following:

  • Expect great things from your people – Within reason, the more you demand, the more opportunity you give people to perform, which can be highly motivating. However, don’t push too hard, and remember to communicate your expectations.
  • Keep in touch with your people – Use the MBWA (Management By Wandering Around) technique (members only) to find out what’s going well, and what needs your attention. Remember to recognize and praise success. Staying connected builds relationships and trust. In tough economic times, you need your staff to perform especially well. The more they know you care, the more likely they are to respond to your call for action.
  • Be visionary – Leaders with vision, passion, energy, enthusiasm, and real engagement with their staff, are the key drivers of economic growth. Stay focused on the big picture, and manage to the best of your abilities.
  • Take care of yourself – Respect your own feelings and emotions during difficult times. Where appropriate, share your concerns with people you trust, and build a network of people you can talk to, however work hard to remain upbeat – if you’re constantly worried, others will sense this. Get enough rest to keep yourself fresh, and manage your emotions to keep your creativity and self-confidence high.

Key Points

Leadership during good economic times has its challenges. But those challenges increase when the economy is tough, and staff are worried about keeping their jobs and paying their bills.

In these conditions, leaders and managers must keep a sharp eye on their environment, prepare for recovery, support their people, and project enthusiasm and energy. By remaining positive, supporting your people, and looking for new business opportunities, you can help your company survive – and succeed – through the difficult times. Leadership performance is critical to organizational success, so use all of the assets available to you.

Advertisements
Comments
  1. […] Leadership In Hard Times (maaruthi.wordpress.com) […]

  2. Samatha Yale says:

    Wow! Your site has quite a few comments. How did you get so many readers to look at your post I’m jealous! I’m still getting to know all about posting articles on the net. I’m going to view pages on your website to get a better understanding how to get more visable. Thank you!

  3. back pain says:

    inspiring insights you are sharing. I admire the way you are sharing it. Is there any way I could sign up for more?

  4. Thanks, I have been seeking for details about this subject for a long time and yours is the best I’ve discovered to date.

  5. A formidable share, I simply given this onto a colleague who was doing a little evaluation on this. And he in reality bought me breakfast because I found it for him.. smile. So let me reword that: Thnx for the treat! However yeah Thnkx for spending the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love reading extra on this topic. If potential, as you change into experience, would you mind updating your weblog with extra particulars? It’s highly helpful for me. Massive thumb up for this weblog post!

  6. Good post. I study something more challenging on different blogs everyday. It would always be stimulating to learn content material from different writers and follow a little one thing from their store. I’d choose to make use of some with the content on my blog whether you don’t mind. Natually I’ll offer you a hyperlink on your internet blog. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Aw, this was a really nice post. In concept I wish to put in writing like this moreover – taking time and actual effort to make a very good article… however what can I say… I procrastinate alot and in no way appear to get one thing done.

  8. You are a very intelligent individual!

  9. I found this site under my bookmarks, probably bookmarked it my wife. Do you have a rss or something like this? I want to add you to my rss reader, becous liked this article especially your way how to explain this.

  10. aquabot says:

    Hello fellow blogger. Absolutely loved checking out your article. It was very informative and useful. I trust it’s ok with you if I do some writing concerning this article on my own internet site. Will also be doing a linkback to this. Luv the look and feel of your site! Gracias.

  11. awesome insights you are sharing. I admire the way you are writing it. Is there any way I could get updated for more?

  12. An impressive share, I simply given this onto a colleague who was doing a bit analysis on this. And he in reality purchased me breakfast because I found it for him.. smile. So let me reword that: Thnx for the treat! However yeah Thnkx for spending the time to debate this, I really feel strongly about it and love reading extra on this topic. If doable, as you develop into expertise, would you mind updating your blog with extra particulars? It is highly helpful for me. Huge thumb up for this blog publish!

  13. I have seen similar about this point of view. But it seems your’s is unique and best.

  14. Bali Map says:

    I just wished to let you know that your blog does not show up properly on the BB browser, I added it to my bookmarks and have simply checked from the desktop, nice format however a shame its not portable.

  15. […] Leadership In Hard Times (maaruthi.wordpress.com) […]

  16. I just couldnt leave your blog before saying that we really enjoyed on the amazing information you offer to your visitors… Will be back frequently to check up on new stuff you post!

  17. Hi everyone congratulations to take the time to blog, this really is essential nowadays as everyone gets there information from the internet

  18. Google adwords management by Whitewolf Media

    Whitewolf Media has 7 years test in doing exactly what it says, google adwords management

    As multifarious people be acquainted with, unceasing a Google Adwords campaign can be costly in both period and Money. You could find your unmixed days budget has been blown in one hour at hand paying droll amounts of money per click. Skilfully thats where we be brought up in to away the burden away from you.

  19. Useful information shared..I am very glad i have read this article.

  20. I love reading one lofty posts and would appreciate it if you would have a look at treasury it concentrates on hotel deals london and can get you some great deals

  21. Your article is like a walk in the park! You’re an inspiration to me and i’m sure many others!

  22. interesting insights you are sharing. I love the way you are writing it. Is there any way I could find out for more?

  23. Thanks for this wondeful post. i just hope many could read this for them to know.

  24. Organic Food says:

    I like coming back again to this blog. Since I added this to my bookmarks, this blog is improving. Keep it up! Cheers, Mike.

  25. awesome insights you are sharing. I love the way you are writing it. Is there any way I could get updated for more?

  26. I have seen something alike about this expression. But it seems your’s is unique and best.

  27. I like the way you presented your post above. You are a blog mega guru!

  28. I think you’ve produced some important points. I realized that theres so very much about this subject thats been uncovered and you did it so properly. One more points on your site!

  29. Thanks for this informative post. i just hope many could read this for them to know.

  30. I like returning back again to this website. Since I added this to my bookmarks, this blog is growing. Keep it up! Cheers, Mike.

  31. htc g2 says:

    Sometimes its better to just step back and realize that not everybody shares your beliefs

  32. Your article is like a walk in the park! You’re an inspiration to me and i’m sure many others!

  33. vegan diet says:

    inspiring insights you are sharing. I love the way you are sharing it. Is there any way I could sign up for more?

  34. I like the way you illustrated your post above. You are a blog master!

  35. back pain says:

    I think you’ve produced some interesting points. I realized that theres so very much about this subject thats been uncovered and you did it so properly. Another points on your site!

  36. I like the way you illustrated your post above. You are a blog genius!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s