Leadership

Leadership in Crisis

By 12. Dezember 2008 No Comments

Too many recipes at the moment, but this is my life experience of working in companies:

1. Simplify to make decisions
2. Understand what is important and what is urgent
3. Communicate the truth and give insights to why
4. Make cuts, find waste, optimise cash flow
5. Intensify the relation to your customers and your suppliers
6. Know yourself and reflect – no heroes wanted

1. Simplify to make decisions

As a manager you need to get an overview what is going on, to take action. The need of the people is to go deeper in the matter and find the guilty on – as they want to protect themselves in the drama of survival.

Get into the helicopter view, cut of details and the drivers in the business. Find keys that work now, set goals to improve projects and finally allow the system to set now structures. Most of the paralysis are people following rules that do not apply to crisis. Set them free – give goals instead of rules.

2. Understand what is important and what is urgent

Decision making in times of unknown circumstances are frightening. More data and more facts will not help. Try to find out what is important for restructuring to the right direction and what is urgent. Urgent decisions take endless meetings, but important decisions need scenarios and planning. Get yourself out for reflection.

3. Communicate the truth and give insights to why

In times of troubles and survival mood, tell the truth, even if it is hurting. Do it directly and personally, clear and open. Write the facts down later and hand them out. But: Tell your people why. People cannot understand why 2008 was the best year ever, and now your company is close to bankruptcy. Why are people laid off. Try to make it easy to grasp and visualise the dynamic – give people a storyline that they can tell others. Get all people to understand that if the company dies, they all loose the job. So integrate the Unions if possible. 

4. Make cuts, find waste, optimise cash flow

Most important is to find cash, or to get it from banks. Revenues shrink like snow in the sun. Costs stay. So set cash free that is fixed in stocks, processes and accounts receivables. Set clear goals and go for them – involve your people. Get balance in your key indicator.

5. Intensify the relation to your customers and your suppliers

Make the unknown more clear, talk to the people who work with and for you. Help your customer to pay for the product and stabilise the relation to your suppliers. Open books, workshops with scenarios, short way communication, risk analysis – do it together with them.

6. Know yourself and reflect – no heroes wanted

Many people expect the tough leader – but do not try to be Moses. You cannot do the job alone; you need the awareness of what needs to be done on the working floor. Lead by communication, information, clarity and honesty. Involve the people who will support you. Show directions to go and open doors for new ways out. Reflect yourself and understand your reactions and decisions.

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