Leading a business in a tumultuous economic climate poses many challenges, but you can succeed if you stay agile and use common sense.
By any measure, these are challenging times for women business leaders. The dislocating effects of globalization were compounded and amplified immeasurably by the near-collapse of the global financial system, creating a troubled economy that shows little signs of returning to robust growth.
Leading economists note that we may be in a new era that demands a fresh set of skills from business leaders. In a recent Wall Street Journal Online article, executive editor Alan Murray shares tips that may help you meet the challenges ahead:
- Stay flexible: In a climate in which the only constant is change, it pays to be agile. Reexamine your mission and strategies frequently to make sure you’re responding to changing times.
- Devour data: Knowledge is more important than ever when changes come at lightning speed, so stay in touch with customers and industry trends.
- Be (somewhat) humble: It’s important to realize you don’t have all the answers. In that spirit, seek new solutions from multiple sources, including employees and customers.
- Communicate: As a woman business leader, you play an important role as your firm’s “evangelist.” Enlist the support of all stakeholders – including staff, customers and suppliers – to ensure success.
- Plan for contingencies and be proactive: Many businesses were unprepared for the last crisis, and few will be prepared for the next. Plan for emergencies. Address problems before they become crises.
- Insist on candor and stay involved: Create an atmosphere in which problem-solving is more important than finger-pointing, and insist on honesty. Don’t forget that in troubled times, employees are anxious too. They may also have valuable information. Be visible and accessible.
- Keep your organization flat: Multilevel companies are less agile. Improve your reaction time with a flat organizational structure.
- Cross-train your talent: Multitalented employees give your business an edge because they help you react quickly to changing demands. Make sure each staff member can perform multiple roles.
- Assess your team: Complacency is the enemy of success. Continuously evaluate your team, rewarding top performers and improving (or terminating) those who aren’t contributing.
- Use your judgment: Follow your instincts, and remember that prospects that sound too good to be true probably are.
These tips sound like common sense because many of them are. But as the business activities that led to the current economic crisis demonstrated, common sense isn’t always common. Read more about how good judgment and agility can help you lead in troubled economic times.