Leadership And Communication Expert Offers 10 Ways Leaders Can Thrive In The Recession

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Actions leaders can take now to turn the economic downside into a career upside.

Noted leadership and communication expert Brent Filson says that this recession offers great opportunities for leaders of all ranks and functions if they take action now.

"Typically, companies reduce expenses in recessions," says Filson, founder and president of The Filson Leadership Group, a global leadership training and consulting firm. "But many of those reductions can be like doing nerve surgery with a meat cleaver. If their leaders employ the right communication skills, keep the right presence of mind, and take the right actions, they can seize the opportunity of bad times and come out the other side more effective in their jobs and more successful in their careers."

Filson offers 10 ways leaders can succeed in the downturn.

1) Invest In Leadership: Most decision makers in companies hit by downturns don't see the challenges of downturns for what they really are, leadership challenges. With every pressing challenge the downturn presents to your company—cash flow, market shrinkage, inventory issues, etc.—describe precisely the leadership challenge underlying the challenge and the leadership solution to the challenge then manifest that leadership to begin solving the problems.

2) Focus On The Right Leadership: In downturns, when the margin for error is slim and time is short, don't go looking for the right people to be led but the right leaders to lead in the right ways. Most leaders I've encountered are leading in the wrong ways. Right leadership is motivational; it involves not ordering people to go from point A to point B but having those people be motivated from going to A to B. It's engaged, motivated employees that best help companies get through downturns.

3) Be A Rainmaker -- now: In a downturn, the long knives are out. The cost cutters have been given a license to kill. But the rainmakers, those people who have exceptional abilities to fill the company's coffers, are immune from their attacks. All leaders in a company have the ability to be a rainmaker in their particular areas. Focus on what leadership actions you can take to achieve extra money saved/earned.

4) Be A Results Partner: In a downturn, unless you can quickly become a partner with the leaders of the functions in your company that deliver top and bottom line results, you may be unprotected when the cutting happens. Identify those leaders and departments that are absolutely necessary for the well being of the company and then propose alliances and partnerships with them.

5) Achieve Increases In Results: Those alliances and partnerships must help them achieve increases in hard, measured results—and in most cases those results that achieve money saved/earned. And they should start getting increases immediately. .

6) Make it stick: You'll have a winning position in your company during a downturn if you can show that the increases in results you'll help your partners get will not only happen IMMEDIATELY but will also go on CONTINUALLY. Build in at the beginning of your relationship with your results partners a plan that will have those results keep going on in the long term.

7) Measure the right results in the right ways. Measurements are needed more than ever in downturns if only because the margin for error is less forgiving. In all the many measuring systems I've encountered, one thing has been lacking, the motivational dimension. Every measurement must be tied to the right business results but it must do something more: it must be a motivational trigger for the employees being measured.

8) Put Yourself On The Line: Many decision makers pull their heads into their shells during a recession, stop taking chances and hope things will go well until the danger passes. The time of recession is a time of great opportunity. But you must often take risks to seize that opportunity, though make sure those risks come from a foundation of intellectual rigor, skills improvements, and hard work.

9) Validate Your Results: To avoid the cost cutters, you must validate the results you achieve and then communicate those validated results to decision makers. Your results-validation report should describe:

--the results achieved
--how the results are linked to business objectives
--the measurements
--the increases in results
--money saved/earned
--how the results can be repeated and be used as springboards for more results.

10) Immediately communicate those results throughout your organization. Here are just a few of the ways you can show the added value of your leadership.

Results validation reports
Financial certifications
Newsletter write-ups
Media attention
Customer testimonials

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