Leading During Uncertain Times

By Generational Equity


“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

I think the quote from Dickens above sums up the theme of this post nicely – during uncertain times leaders lead and in doing so, they create valuable organizations that overcome all odds (no matter what season or epoch we find ourselves in). 

I recently came across a great article by Michael Nolan, CSL, entitled “5 Keys to Leading Sales During Uncertain Times”. Although focusing on sales organizations primarily, the wisdom of the piece applies to all facets of a company, not just sales. Nolan puts it so well when he says:

One of the many lessons we can learn from the last two years is that your business will face both good and bad times. You’ll celebrate record growth and stare down stunning losses. At the end of the day, week, month, or quarter… your job is to weather the storm and lead in uncertain times.

According to Nolan here are the five keys to leading during uncertain times (again modified slightly to apply to entire organizations):

  • Do you have the right people in place?
  • How do you drive the right behaviors?
  • How can you build an accountable culture?
  • How should you structure your team to meet growth goals?
  • How long does it take to fix a team?

As always, I look at great articles like Mr. Nolan’s through the lenses of professional business acquirers. These are buyers that are constantly looking for fundamentally well-run organizations to invest in, often regardless of the niche the business may be in (or how large and profitable they may be).

From that perspective, buyers are usually concerned about the culture of the businesses they buy. They will often pay a premium for companies that have dedicated, driven, goal-oriented teams of talented, hard-working associates (recognizing that privately held companies often simply need capital to reach their full potential when the winning team is in place). 

How do you know if you have a team that meets those standards?

The first step in the Generational process begins with a full assessment of your leadership and how it impacts your organization. If you are not considering an exit for a number of years, but want to build a buyer-ready business for sale down the road, our team with Generational Consulting Group (GCG) can really help you.

Over the years our tactical and strategic growth plans have been used to help dozens of companies first learn what they are lacking and then develop ideas that can be implemented immediately to start the company down the path of certain growth during uncertain times.

Here is what a few of our GCG clients have said about our process of developing leadership and strategies that work:

There is no one cookie-cutter approach that works with all businesses during uncertain times. But if you are able to develop a culture of accountability, one where every single associate from the mail room guy to the VP of Sales knows what the company stands for and how it is going to achieve great things, odds are good you will prepare a company that buyers will want to invest in.

As the old saying goes, the best place to start is at the beginning, and the beginning of our process is having you attend one of our complimentary Executive Growth and Exit Planning Conferences. While there you will gain a tremendous amount of information about growing a business during these times and how to achieve great things no matter what you are facing. To find a conference near you, please use this link.

And in closing I leave you with some great thoughts, from great minds, about leading in uncertain times (and these fellows certainly faced uncertain times):

"The best way to predict your future is to create it."
Abraham Lincoln

"Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence, is the key to unlocking our potential."
Winston Churchill

"Take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly, and try another. But by all means, try something."
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Carl Doerksen is the Director of Corporate Development at Generational Equity.

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