Leadership In Hard Times

Leading – and Succeeding – in a Downturn

Don't leave your team stranded.

© iStockphoto/JLFCapture

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

Leadership is especially critical when organizations have to adapt to difficult business environments.

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 can weaken. People feel the pressures of work, and they fear for their jobs.

These worries and fears present a major challenge for leaders who need to keep their teams productive and on target.

One of the keys to protecting yourself and your business in an economic downturn is to develop a culture that builds, and sustains, effective leadership practices.

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. However, you need high-performing leaders if you're going 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 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:

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