It’s Not Just
About Profitability and Survival: Leaders Need to Lead
By Pat Heydlauff
Political and economic influences have great implications for
today’s leaders as they maneuver their way through ever-expanding
mine fields. This economy and political climate are forcing leaders
to re-think their operating plan. This is a time for action not
reaction; a time for decisive leadership to guide the company safely
through a quagmire while preparing for the future.
“Maintaining market share, maximizing operational tightness and
propagating the long term view for the company are critical during
an economic downturn,” said the CEO of a major privately held
corporation. This thought process isn’t just common sense but
crucial for economic survivability and mobility once the economy
starts to move forward again.
CEO went on to say, “a company cannot afford to lose any market
share nor erode operating capital during a downturn because there
will be nothing left for marketing, advertising and hiring when the
economy does turnaround. A business gets into real trouble when it
loses its market share and depletes its capital; it will not survive
– no matter how good the economy might get. Therefore, leadership
needs to focus on the long-term view while getting everyone aboard
to think survival, expense reduction and increasing income without
any negative financial impact on existing capital.”
leadership focuses on short-term business survival, assets are
protected, jobs continue to exist and market share and profitability
is maintained. Once a carefully laid out short-term plan for
survival has been accomplished it is crucial that leaders not get so
bogged down with survival that they forget to look at the long term
are the kind of times, circumstances and events that require leaders
to make hard decisions and realize there is a way to behave during
an economic crisis. Survivability is all about reducing expenses,
making profits and maintaining capital. Company leaders who
understand how to make money are the survivors and will be the
change makers who help turn the economy around and ensure their
longer the downturn the more the consumers will dig in and hold onto
their hard-earned money. Once the economy does turnaround, they will
pay down their accumulated debt before spending. To bridge these
turbulent times, leaders need to have a plan that includes a long
term view covering everything from being prudent on expenses and
increasing employee efficiency to eroding the competitions market
share. Here are some easy-to-implement survival principles that
focus on the future.
Shift everyone’s thinking.
Move from a cost-cutting mode to a money-making and
increasing-market-share mode while not digging into existing
capital. Employees tend to spend capital so they need to be
engaged from the bottom up to look for ways to either save money
or increase sales and revenues. When encouraged to participate
in the company’s survival, they take a piece of ownership in its
survival and become part of the solution team instead of an
individual trying to survive.
Increase employee efficiency.
Eliminate energy drainers and clutter in the workplace and
organize it so employees can find anything they need at a
moment’s notice. Time is money, and employees are a huge
investment. Clutter is a distraction that prevents an employee
from maximizing their productivity and the company’s
Upgrade your organizational chart.
Be an all inclusive organization and share this philosophy with
your employees. Eliminate the old 19th Century
Newtonian pyramid-shaped organizational chart and replace it
with one that works from the center out like a spider’s web
where everyone is connected, productive and within the playing
field. Employees do their best work when they feel they are
relevant and make a difference in the outcome.
Leaders need to lead.
Focus on the long-term view. Once you’ve devised and implemented
a plan for survival, focus all your energy on the big picture
and where you want the company to be when the economy starts
moving upward. Let someone else worry about the number of paper
clips being used. It takes a leader to move safely through
todays economic mine fields. Followers need a leader with a
vision to lead them into creating the future.
Being a leader is stressful enough during normal times. The
stress is greatly magnified during this difficult economic and
political environment. Plan some creative time during hectic
days to get the right side of the brain working. Stress comes
from logical left brain thinking not being balanced by creative
right brain thinking. It’s the right side of the brain that
helps you create new ideas and solve problems such as getting
through this economic downturn.
Leaders need to find ways to solve problems improve survivability
and increase market share while protecting existing capital. This
type of breakthrough thinking comes through creativity. Add some
right brain activities to your schedule such as creative writing,
painting, listening to classical or new age music, quiet walks in
nature or meditation. If you’re stuck at your desk, take a few
minutes to do some creative visualization. Close your eyes and
mentally visit a place you love – remembering to breathe deeply
while in that frame of mind. You will feel refreshed and the
creative juices will flow, helping you solve the most complex of
takes a leader with vision and the creative know-how to turn things
around and have everyone in the company think as one instead of as a
number of individuals. Leaders must realize they cannot use 19th
Century leadership tools in the 21st Century – especially those that
are narrow and top down instead of inclusive.
Leadership is all about creating tomorrow’s vision while living
through today’s difficult times. Profitability and maintaining the
company’s market share while not dipping into capital must be the
long term objective which builds a fertile foundation for company
growth when the economy turns upward.
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