I used to think that hard nosed, dictatorial management was outdated and innappropriate but it looks set for a come back.
Not so long ago, announcing redundancies was seen as an admission of weakness, the management clearly didn’t have control of their business. Now if you’re not restructuring you are regarded as out of step with reality. Prompted in part by the mainstream media’s inability to see beyond FTSE falls and redundancy announcements, my SMS business updates have reported nothing else for weeks, its as though the economic world has stopped turning.
Odd given that my training and events business has just had its best month since November 2007 and February looks set to beat it! I catch myself thinking is this just a blip until I hear the likes of Theo Paphitis and several other ‘self made’ business leaders saying this is the land of opportunity. Its survival of the fittest and if you’re fit enough then you ‘re set to gain ground and grow your business.
So what should be our tack? Do we hold off making changes or join the flock and plan a restructure. Neither I as a fellow business leader or any other comentator can claim to know what’s right for your business, that’s a choice that has to be left to you but it’s a choice that must be made even if it makes you unpopular.
The truth is, now is the time for that most important of leadership actions – decision making. It pains me to admit it but leading during the good times was easy, most decisions were straightforward or more often obvious. To a large extent we simply had to grin at clients and praise our staff, growth flowed from that. If you are lucky enough to be in a rising market now then keep pressing the flesh; oh to be a software designer for social networking sites – that sector is thriving.
If, like so many you don’t find yourself riding the crest of a wave then its time to take the hard decisions and importantly be sure your management team are doing the same. Luke Johnson the man who took Pizza Express from 40p to 800p per share and now chairs Channel 4 wrote in this week’s Financial Times :
“It is becoming apparent that many leaders were really just suited to the good times. During a severe recession, when growth is irrelevant and all that matters is survival, their bullish attitude and denial of reality becomes positively dangerous .”
Few MDs will be winning popularity contests this year but we will be thanked for honest, transparent and swift decision making, which, if combined with a clear vision for the future will result not just in survival but in growth.