In today’s challenging times, great captains must embrace unique characteristics to navigate their sailboat safely to its destination. As strategic thinkers and intuitive visionaries, they watch the clouds and see the storm coming. With their chief mate, they chart the best strategic course to avoid the storm. Empowered with knowledge, their mates fear not.
Unable to avoid the storm? Great captains employ creative strategies and tactics to avoid capsizing their boat. As wise leaders, they trim the sails for safe navigation. They remain calm and strategic as the waves beat into their ship with force. Committed and combative, great captains give the command to switch to storm sails for more stability. They communicate trust, and their words are impregnated with optimism as the wind furiously blows into the sails. They navigate tirelessly until their ship is safe, heading towards the clear horizon.
You are the captain of your enterprise, and you must embrace a number of unique leadership characteristics to triumph over tough economic times that may render the future very bleak. Let’s look at some differentiators between captains whose boat capsizes, and those who are true leaders able to navigate safely through storms.
In difficult times, great leaders stand steady and strong at the helm. They show wisdom in their decision making and leadership in all areas of the business, from strategic planning, team structure and management, growth initiatives, and process reengineering, to financial management and communication.
As strategic thinkers, leaders listen to the market to identify shifts, new trends, threats, barriers, and their causes. They look for growth opportunities beyond their current markets. They consider low-cost product development and additional distribution channels. They review current resources, organizational structure, tasks, and internal processes for changes that may increase productivity. With sharp eyes, they scrutinize the operating budget, and with good judgment they cut expenses where needed.
Leaders are greatly intuitive and resourceful, focused on new ideas to drive growth, with products and prices to better respond to market needs and remain ahead of the competition. They look for new ways of doing things for greater efficiency and a positive impact on the bottom line.
Leaders enable group decisions and support cross-functional cooperation. Jointly with their teams, they wisely analyze risks and financial impacts associated with all options. They then confirm the proper course of action with strategies and tactical plans that align with the new vision. Working down from the strategic plan, business units develop their annual business plans, which are then consolidated for review, prioritization, and final allocation of resources.
Leaders try hard not to downsize the workforce to be ready for the next economic upturn. They position their teams to play their best game. Desired behaviors and staff competencies are reinforced with knowledge, training, tools, methodologies, communication, performance monitoring, awards, and pay incentives.
Leaders delegate and monitor progress effectively with senior management. Each month, they review each element of the business units’ plans and provide quick feedback on progress-to-date and next steps. With eyes wide open, they closely monitor operational cash flow, accounts receivable, and budgets.
Leaders do not let a setback discourage them. On the contrary, they are fiercely combative. Their creativity is at its best when challenges appear on the horizon. They encourage discussions and brainstorming sessions with their teams to generate winning solutions.
Leaders put action in their passions and keep marching on with confidence. They lead by example, and are committed to the success of the enterprise and their teams. Financial scarcity does not stop them; they continue the promotion of their brand with inexpensive marketing strategies. They support their teams as they work hard in implementing the action plans. They are committed to the culture of excellence they have created.
Leaders share the new direction openly with all team members for greater clarity. They answer all questions in true honesty and put to rest all rumors. They are good listeners, flexible to new ideas to increase profit. With confidence, they contact suppliers to make more appropriate payment arrangements as may be needed. They leverage their client relationships and business contacts to learn more and build growth.
Leaders encourage their teams with kind words. They say no to stress, doubt, and fear. They know they are winners, and challenges are not stopping them. They lead with optimism, celebrate progress, and praise their teams for their efforts. Their positivity and enthusiasm are contagious.
Now well-apprised of the secrets of great captains, no recession or economic downturn will prevent you from navigating ahead safely. Striving for profitable longevity, not survival, will be your signature of success.