Tough times make us better leaders

History tells us that great leaders tend to emerge during tough times.

The economic outlook is currently quite gloomy. There is a lot of talk of a recession; costs are rising; there is a shortage of talented employees and
the economic landscape is shifting daily.

So, what do the best business leaders do in order to thrive during tough economic times? To start, focus on what you need to get right and stop worrying about the things that are outside of your control.

There will always be some level of uncertainty in business, so do your best to make decisions using the best information that is available, but don’t worry if you don’t have all the facts.

The best business leaders focus on achieving their overall strategic objectives. They show initiative, assertiveness and discipline.

During uncertain times, people often look to the leaders of their firm for guidance. As such, authenticity is key. An authentic leader is committed to learning and understanding the key strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities from each part of the business.

Ask questions and listen actively to your team members. Ask them to share their views and involve them in making some of the decisions. This will help your employees to feel like a more cohesive team and will build confidence in the leadership team.

In a turbulent market, businesses become more risk averse. Most management teams will tighten budgets and may even reduce the size of their workforce.

However, scaling down investment programmes and cutting the size of your workforce too drastically can have a very negative effect on long term growth, as well as employee morale.

Instead, focus on optimising your business to weather the storm. Consider where you can gain some ground from competitors who perhaps cut back a bit too much. Maybe there will be an opportunity to hire some of their talented employees, or even win some new clients if they don’t have enough employees to service.

Finally, do some reading. Read case studies on successful leaders of the past and how they weathered the storm of a difficult economic scenario. What can you learn from them and how can that make you a better leader? Tough times present you with the opportunity to reshape yourself as a highly effective leader.

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