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December 13, 2015

Leading During a Session

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? 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.

Developing a profi table organization means recruiting, managing, and motivating a diverse group of people. Just as effective performers contribute a variety of skills and experiences, differing temperaments are also needed. Much has been written recently about the necessity of homogeneity of an executive team. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Can you imagine every executive in the company having the same personality as the vice-president of sales or the vice-president of manufacturing? Common orientations lead to a narrow understanding of the marketplace and the purpose of the organization. Every organization needs different leadership and communication styles at various levels and departments – from the boardroom to the shop fl oor. It is these different synergisms that create everything from a new product to the best way to lay out the shipping room. Outstanding people know how to recognize and take advantage of the strengths of others, even if those others may drive them crazy.

Let’s explore some personality opposites. Why they need each other, and why they can irritate each other with their temperamental differences.