Editor's Note

Oct. 27, 2008
When the Wolf Bites, the Sheepdog Remains Steadfast

It’s not just a close friend, or your neighbor next door, or the folks that were just laid off from Company XYZ, or the company of 60,000 plus people who can’t go back to the office because the doors have been permanently closed … no, now we are all in this economic crisis together. The wolf has bitten hard, but to beat this credit crunch, one answer and perhaps most important, is to remain positive.

Professor Mike West, an organizational psychologist and executive dean of Britain’s Aston Business School, says people should think positively if they want to overcome economic woes. Following is an excerpt from his article at the Birmingham Post Web site:

It’s clear that recessions are often a consequence of loss of confidence and that what we’re seeing in the modern age is because there is so much communication through the media that in a sense, that loss of confidence becomes more pervasive and more contagious more easily.

So there is a lot of ‘doom saying’ going on at the minute about the economy, about finance and about business and so on and of course one of the things that does is undermines the confidence of ordinary people in the street.

Interestingly when I talk to business leaders they are not as pessimistic as are the newspapers, or people in the street, but people in the street are being made to feel afraid because they’re worried about their savings and their pensions, and they’re worried that their incomes won’t cover costs as time goes by, and they’re worried that inflation is going to go up and so on.

I think for us all as leaders what we need to be doing is to be confident and positive and enthusiastic about the future.

What companies typically do in a recession is cut out unnecessary costs and they become more efficient.

So one of the things that are going to happen is that we are going to become more efficient and more effective and that’s something to be pleased about, to be confident about. So reasonable optimism, enthusiasm and confidence are what politicians and business leaders need to be practicing.

One of the stories that always strikes me as being very powerful is Southwest Airlines. The day after 9/11 the leaders of Southwest Airlines knew they were about to face one of the biggest downturns in air travel that they’d ever seen and they went out that morning and said to all their employees ‘there will be no redundancies (layoffs)’.

That was a brave, bold move, and through that they won the support and the backing of the confidence of their employees because they acted as leaders in a situation that was dreadful and dire. So sometimes it’s about being really courageous and really bold.

On a more parochial level as leaders we can talk optimistically with employees, we talk enthusiastically and confidently. Yes there are problems, but we have the skills and we have the talent and we have the vision as an organization to survive.

Actually we’re going to do more than survive, we’re going to grow and be really effective.

Good management is about saying ‘we are in a hard situation, we are in a tough situation, but we want to get everyone’s views on how we deal with it.

These are the things that we’re putting in place. We’re confident we’ve got the right people in our organization. We’ve got great people. We’ve got great spirit.

We’ve done very well in the past. We’ve built a solid base. We can go forward. And we will grow and we will be a better organization in the future. That’s what good leadership is all about.

So there’s an enormous amount to be grateful for and we have to keep celebrating that. That’s how you get out of the doldrums. You change the way you think and change the way you talk. You stop running negative songs in your head and start running positive ones and that’s what we need to be doing as a nation.

To view this article in its entirety go to: http://www.birminghampost.net/comment/birmingham-columnists/agenda/2008/07/23/stay-positive-and-beat-the-credit-crunch-65233-21390025/

As always, thanks for reading.