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The Recession: No, it's not over!

This Monday Morning Wake-Up is just that - a wake up. For months economists have been stating that the recession has bottomed out. Yes, there have been glimmers of hope in the housing market. Consumer spending rose at a lackluster 1.7% annual rate, compared with the previously estimated 2.0% gain.

So here’s the wake-up call: The economy isn’t that much better off in the first quarter 2010 than it was in the first quarter of 2009. Thank goodness, the news media is busy covering the winter storms and the worst bipartisan divisions and bickering in Washington I have ever seen. (Maybe I was mistaken, but I thought our elected officials in Washington are there to serve the People - not the special interests of their political parties.)

Like you, I am an entrepreneur. My company sinks or swims based on my ability to make good decisions - to lead in both good times and bad. If this recession has taught me anything, it’s that the game of business has changed permanently. Every sales dollar takes more work. Every cost-cutting measure goes deeper. Every tough decision has another tough decision hot on its heels. Keeping your team motivated demands unprecedented levels of engagement by YOU. Keeping yourself motivated and positive means digging deeper than ever to remain tenacious and courageous.

Here are some no-compromise must-do’s to succeed:

  • Own your leadership accountability: Leading your company is your job. You can’t delegate it or put it off until tomorrow. Own it. Embrace it.

  • Opportunities abound: That’s right. There are plenty of opportunities to grow - they just don’t exist in the usual places. The wake-up message here is that the low-hanging fruit has been picked over. You have to climb and stretch in order to find and grab new opportunities.

  • Tough decisions are still waiting for you: “I don’t know what else to do,” is a pretty common line these days. Guess what? You do know what to do - you just don’t want to do it. Maybe you need to lay off someone. Maybe YOU need to adjust your lifestyle. Maybe you need to shrink your business so it can grow again. Touch decisions suck. Tough decisions get tougher the longer you wait.

  • Shake things up to wake things up: When you’re fighting to survive, the last thing you can afford is a case of complacency or indifference in the employee ranks. I often ask leaders if they’re fighting harder to protect their employees’ paychecks than their employees are. If so, this means that leaders have enabled such behavior. Here’s a Neilism: “If I can’t sleep at night - no one sleeps at night.” Shake things up. You’ll be amazed what your company can achieve.

  • You can’t do it alone: You need support. You need to be surrounded by people who understand the vision and are willing to go the distance. Every member of your leadership team should be pulling along with you - not dragging behind like an anchor. Take a hard look at your leadership team. Are YOU leading them? Are you empowering them? Are you holding them accountable?

  • Manage your stress: The best prescription for leadership stress is to work out. I do spin class and ride my bike every chance I get. I hired an instructor to come to my office every Thursday afternoon for an hour of Pilates. Stress will slow you down and wear you out if you don’t manage it with exercise.

Daylight definitely exists at the other end of this recession. In order to get there, you must become a no-compromise leader.

Please share your thoughts with me about today’s Monday Morning Wake-Up. Click the Comment button above.

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

Pass this e-mail on to your business colleagues, managers and friends. They’ll appreciate it.


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