Whether the economy springs back in the fourth quarter of 2009 or we climb out slowly over the next two years, the countdown to economic recovery is on. It’s time for learning executives to ask themselves: Are we ready?
Different economic times require different leadership skills. Leading during prosperity is not the same as carrying a company through difficult times. There are countless leadership competencies, and they’re all necessary at different points. The following five, however, are critical to leading organizations through — and out of — a turbulent economy:
Set the course. Leaders must define the focus for the organization by developing a vision for the future, along with the strategies for making the changes needed to achieve that vision.
Align the stars. Leaders can’t move forward without first gaining the support of employees. By making the vision, mission and objectives clear to staff, leaders can create the cohesive teams necessary to achieve their goals.
Inspire. Leaders can build enthusiasm and confidence among employees by raising expectations, encouraging them to accept challenges and instilling a desire for excellence.
Communicate. Strong communication skills are vital to moving an organization forward. If leaders keep employees informed and are transparent about changes in the organization, employees will be more secure, focused and productive.
Manage. Success can’t happen without engaged employees. Leaders must nurture and develop people to fill the needs of the organization and help retain talented staff.
Leaders should focus on these five competencies if they want to come through the recession stronger. But how can leaders improve their skills when development dollars are so limited?
It is possible for organizations to implement development programs cost-effectively. For example, companies can roll out targeted coaching programs. Instead of the traditional broad-based, academic-focused programs, these more streamlined approaches support the challenges of key talent and leaders without costing big bucks. The first step is to identify those individuals who will make the biggest impact on the organization’s future and concentrate on that finite number.
Targeted coaching techniques can mobilize a leadership team, increase management capability, lend clarity to the organization’s goals and help the organization gain momentum while managing through the change. And since this coaching is done on the job in real time — instead of in a classroom setting — the organization will realize immediate impact and high value.
Economic recovery may arrive next quarter or next decade. Regardless of when it happens, the companies that invest in their key people now will position themselves for success when the economy rebounds.