The Eagle Blog

Leading in this Downturn

I have referenced John Izzo’s work many times in this blog, and I was very happy to see that John was a speaker at the ACSESS conference I attended in Montreal last week.

In September last year I wrote a blog entry based on John’s 6 Rules for managing in a Downturn he had published in his newsletter. I recommend John’s newsletter which is always good for new thoughts, ideas and some plain common sense.

Last week, in Montreal, John’s talk was about Leading in Uncertain Times, which dovetails nicely with his earlier work. The first area he talked about is what our staff expect from us as leaders and he listed 5 things:

1. Honesty and straight talk. They are all adults and they want to hear reality, they might not like it but generally they prefer to hear it from the “horses mouth”. The reality is that if they are not hearing from “the boss” then they are (a) going to assume the worst (b) propagate rumours (c) get their “information” from other sources or some combination of the above, none of which is good!

2. Decisiveness and direction. The last thing your staff want to hear is that you don’t know what is going on and you have no idea what to do about it!

3. Hope and vision. Your staff do not want to hear doom and gloom all the time … they want some hope! They want to hear some of the positive messages about coming through the downturn and what it might mean.

4. Communication. Tied very much to #1 and #3 but as a leader you need to be communicating often and regularly!

5. Sacrifice. If you are asking your staff to absorb some pain then you have better be leading by example. Asking staff to work harder, while you take off for a month cruising in the Caribbean might not go over so well! Worse yet is asking the troops to take a salary roll back, while management gets a big bonus!

In addition to the 5 things your staff want, John had Two Rules of a Downturn:

Rule #1. Survive! Don’t make any big mistakes, do whatever it takes to preserve the company that provides income for many people.Rule #2. Manage the downturn with the next upturn in mind. Do not become so focused on saving money and avoiding catastrophe that you forget to position for when things return to normal.

As always, good advice from John delivered with great stories and a lot of passion.

A. If you get a chance to see John, take it.
B. I recommend that you subscribe to his newsletter.
C. If you have not read John’s book, the 5 Secrets You Should Discover Before You Die … then buy it! Its a quick read and well worth it.

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