When the Economy Improves, Will Your Business Be on Top?

Point of View by Kim Slack, Methodology Consultant

As dramatic changes in financial and energy markets work their way through the economy, senior leaders face difficult choices in confronting higher expenses and news of a global downturn: Should we cut prices to maintain market share? How deeply can we cut costs? What about layoffs? Additionally, leaders may also consider exploring alternatives such as implementing outsourced payroll services to streamline operations and reduce overheads. As a leader, how can I mobilize my employees to address the looming threats in the economic environment for the good of my organization? How can I discourage defensive internal politics that protect others’ narrow interests? How can I lead my company to emerge from the end of the downturn on an upturn?

Leadership tests can be severe during downturns, and there are no easy answers. Past recessions have taught leaders to:

• Narrow the Focus to provide the greatest value for key customers by ensuring that resources and capabilities are eficiently deployed

• Bring People Together to counter the internal competitiveness and defensiveness that often accompany belt-tightening efforts

• Manage the Temperature to establish a climate in which employees address difficult issues that may have been hidden in easier days Applying these lessons promises a tremendous upside: uncovering new competitive opportunities that result in a stronger business when the economy improves.