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After the recession, ask the right questions now!

recovery2The question most often asked during a recession is: When will it end? It's the natural tendency for a return to normal - to business as usual. But as the economy continues to show signs of recovery, prudent leaders are asking very different and extremely tough questions. Rather than slipping back into old leadership patterns, they're asking how they must change as leaders to adapt to what will clearly be a new and challenging economic reality. Simply put, if you think business will return to "normal," that stress levels will dial down, you're thinking is going to lead you down a dangerous path that doesn't end in the "happy days" of yesteryear.

Although there were clear signs in 2008 that a recession was looming, the economy tanked so fast that many businesses were caught off guard and unprepared for rough times. Savvy leaders engaged quickly to cut expenses and plug financial leaks. Leaders that acted quickly and decisively faired better. Those that hesitated felt the pain of weakened sales and poorly controlled spending.

With the economy in the early stages of recovery, now is the time to ask the following questions:

  • How do you need to change as a leader? Where did your leadership style fall short? Did your tendency to be a friend and well-liked leader make it difficult for you to shift into a focused and decisive mode? Did your command and control style restrict your leadership team from helping you create and implement needed changes? Did your hands-off style have you floundering as they waited for their leader to engage?

  • What leadership skills are you lacking? No leader is a complete package. What's missing in your leadership toolbox? Is it time to get a handle on cash-flow management? Are your communication skills lacking? Are your time management skills deficient? Are you a master of procrastination?

  • What systems misfired? What systems are missing? You lead people - you manage systems. That's the magic formula. If you don't like the outcomes you're getting in any area of your business, it's time to examine, upgrade or build entirely new systems to achieve the results you want.

  • Is your company culture contaminated? It can be agonizingly stressful to rally a team that has trust issues, internal drama, entitlement thinking and no sense of urgency. If your culture is contaminated, get help. A culture shift requires a thorough understanding of what no-compromise leadership is all about. A coach can help you gain clarity and direction to pull your team together into a high-performance culture.

  • What's innovative about your company? Wow. Nothing fires a company up more than a major initiative. Take a brutally honest look at your company. If all you see is the same old stuff and activity, it's time for some serious innovative thinking that's going to invigorate your company, its people and its culture.

Great leaders anticipate what their companies need to look beyond the horizon. When emerging from tough times, they ask the right questions about what needs to change. They learn, grow and mature as leaders.

Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.

Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO and author of No-Compromise Leadership


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