If you are borderline addicted to watching the newscasts like Tracy accuses me of being, then you may think that the media believes the business world, the economy as we know it is coming to an end. At the very least, optimism about our future is certainly not the message they are delivering. Don’t fall into their trap. Bad news, crisis (even if it is manufactured) and controversy increase their ratings on viewership.

I have to tell you, I am still optimistic about the future of this country; the future of business; the future of our free enterprise system and yes, the future of our industry. I am not ignoring the fact that we are having economic issues. Yes we are experiencing a credit crunch and issues on Wall Street that impact every one of us. But, the cause of most of these issues is clear - social engineering. The building supply/housing industry led the charge and reaped the benefits of this social engineering that was created by our leaders in both the House of Representatives and Congress. We experienced a growth in this segment beyond anyone’s expectations. But this growth, in reality, was no stronger long term than a “House of Cards”. 

Market Corrections

Experts’ were telling us year after year that the housing bubble would burst. It’s uncanny how our free enterprise system has its own way of making corrections. We are now experiencing one of those corrections, a major correction. Most of us have enjoyed very good if not record profits during this housing boom which was the driving force of our business success in almost every industry.

According toBarbara Hagenbaugh of USA Today, the housing market influences consumers in a number of ways, including acting as a job engine in construction, real estate and other industries. It also acts as a catalyst for consumer spending, which accounts for 70% of U.S. economic activity.

This is Not the Time to Panic

Yes, there are economic problems, but there are also opportunities!  Leadership during these tough economic times is about not panicking, and that's exactly the message I want to get across... don't panic!Panic causes knee jerk reactions, and they're rarely correct. This Economic Panic that could be caused by “Media Sensationalism” can create a knee jerk reaction that negates effective leadership.

We must understand the difference betweenpanicandcaution.
Panic - (noun)a sudden overwhelming fear, with or without cause that produces hysterical or irrational behavior that often spreads.
Caution– (noun)a prudent forethought to minimize risk: a warning, a precaution.

Deliberate Leadership, clear thinking and solid strategies leads to success in any economy.Panic leads to failure. As leaders we need to be deliberate, thoughtful, and take the actions necessary to stabilize the future of our individual businesses.

Profit Covers Many Sins

Remember, our past profit can cover many sins. When times get a little tougher most of those sins begin to rise to the top. That is when effective leadership really shows its value. Ask yourself - Are you prepared to deal with the market corrections and economic conditions we will face in 2009? Are you in a position to take advantage of the opportunities that may present themselves? Consider the following questions to determine your next steps in preparing your business model for 2009.
  • Can you challenge media mental maps that could shape perception?
  • Can you put aside relevant past successes and failures?
  • Can you challenge your own assumptions?
  • Do all your sales employees know and understand your business strategy?
  • What are the individual roles in a planning process?
  • Do you have a strategic plan?
  • Have you considered contingency planning?
  • How does the role of your field sales representatives fit into your business strategy?
  • What meaningful statistics are you using to measure your sales team? Your customers?
  • Have you ever participated in a formal “what if” analysis?
  • What type of performance statistics are you maintaining?
  • Are you losing or gaining compared to competitors?
  • Is management involved with the sales to top/target customers?
  • Is management involved in partnering relationships?
  • What’s new in the external environment on which you can capitalize?
  • What new products and services can you offer to provide new growth opportunities? To existing customers? To new customers?
  • What opportunities do you provide to allow you to get to know your clients better at all levels of their organization?
  • Do you know your customers’ top 10 customers?

Even the brightest, strongest and most successful leaders in our industry will be challenged during these tough economic times. Even those of us with scar tissue, experience from past recessions, find that leadership becomes much more difficult in a declining economy. You may feel like you are just starting down the first big hill of a roller coaster ride. You may envision the next couple of years as high risk, high stakes - a time filled with uncertainty and ambiguity, but, we need to set those thoughts aside.

We need to guard against creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of “doom and gloom.” We must ignore the media sensationalism and deal with facts. It is time to reach within, time to find whatever higher power you believe in, time to demonstrate the kind of leadership that can deal with these turbulent times

It all begins and it will all end with LEADERSHIP. You can do it. Your employees are counting on it.
Check out CEO Strategists Learning to Lead So Others Will Follow Planning Workbook and CD set. www.ceostrategist.com/resources-store/real-world-leadership.html

www.ceostrategist.com-Sign up to receive “The Howl” a free monthly newsletterthat addresses real world industry issues. - Straight talk about today’s issues. Rick Johnson, expert speaker, wholesale distribution’s “Leadership Strategist”, founder of CEO Strategist, LLC a firm that helps clients create and maintain competitive advantage.Need a speaker for your next event, E-mailrick@ceostrategist.com.