Tough Times

These are Tough Times

Many businesses are experiencing restricted access to investment capital.

Workforce morale is poor; many have experienced downsizing. Survivors grieve their departed colleagues. The fear, uncertainty and doubt has disheartened workforces – who see their company lowering its sights, but without a new clear vision in view.

Working capital is constrained as lenders focus internally on their cash and balance sheet issues – and grimly, on their own diminished prospects.

Sales volumes are down.

Forecasts for the future are gray.

For many companies, the weakening brought on by many factors like those above has increased competitive pressures, challenges to find and keep the right talent. For some, the gathering storm has raised the specter of more imminent acquisition.

In Challenges, We Find Opportunities

During these times, people question many fundamental assumptions – about how the business makes money, about whether the business model itself remains viable, about our collective capabilities and will, about the future and what it may hold, for good (or we fear) for ill.

Some of this questioning is valuable. To the extent that all assumptions and questions are “valued equally” – and to the extent that people are putting too many assumptions “in play” at one time – the process of questions assumptions in this way might actually contribute to anxieties, and stoke fear, uncertainty and doubt.  To the extent that excessive questioning paralyzes, and limits meaningful action, it can be unhealthy.

For many during this time, the writing is on the wall that “the future” will look different from “the past.” The process of holding on to the past, hoping that some vestiges of it will survive – and grieving the losses that accompany its passing – complicates the situation, and may add emotional challenges to the very real and rational economic, organizational and personal ones.

Finding The Way Forward

During this time is an opportunity for leaders to make a new call to action. An opportunity to rethink the business model. To refocus on core principles. To affirm vision, and describe and define how that vision might come into being in new, fresh, innovative and compelling ways. To reconnect and affirm relationships with good customers. To rethink basic assumptions, in a structured and progressive way. To hold candid and courageous conversations that do not shrink from clear language and clear description, and that enable all participants to find inspiration, motivation, and value – and the strength and will to move forward.

Now is the time to position and drive your organization – in the ways demanded by these times, and the new realities your organization faces. Now is the time to approach people and thinking in new ways. Now – more than ever – is the time to “double down” on leadership. But perhaps not leadership as it has always been practiced…

What key questions are you asking yourself – about the direction for your organization, what you discern as needs and priorities to address, about your leadership?