At certain points in time, running a business will almost certainly feel overwhelming — the loss of a large customer, failure to satisfy contractually agreed upon key performance indicators (KPIs), seemingly unmanageable growing pains, an unhappy shareholder, a contentious board or the departure of a key executive. Countless are the small and larger issues that leaders are confronted with on a daily basis. In order to weather these storms effectively, and still make balanced and informed decisions, it is of utmost importance to remain composed and pragmatic.
Recently, C-suite business leader, Jozef J. Opdeweegh, shared his perspective on how to remain focused and steadfast in times of adversity and turmoil.
1. Anticipate and learn from the inevitable ups and downs of running a business
The success of a business is dependent on an infinite number of factors, some internal and controllable, and even more frustratingly, some external and completely out of your control. Sometimes, you feel you have the wind in the sails, and everything appears to be going your way. The business is growing at a steady pace, your customers are happy, and you are able to attract and retain the right talent. There seems to be an intangible positive energy that is driving the business. Until suddenly, from one day to the next it appears your fortune has changed. You may not be able to put your finger on why things seem to have taken a turn for the worst, but at least in your mind, they most certainly have.
It’s important to remember that both the ups and downs are a natural part of leading a company. Keeping a balanced perspective and appreciating the lessons learned in both the professional peaks and valleys can help leaders emerge from uncertainty with new skills to contribute to their companies.
2. Illusions of causality
All humans, and therefore business leaders included, have a tendency to perceive correlation between completely independent factors. Sure, the adherence to good principles of management in a strong economic environment would typically give your business a boost. However, even during these years of abundance, there always are a number of issues of varying severity that you have to contend with – you just may not notice the impact of these setbacks as distinctively since you are riding the waves of success. After all, you are programmed to believe that you have hit a lucky streak and moreover, that your management talent may very well be the determining factor for your success. It may even cause you to become somewhat immodest and less alert.
Conversely, when the tide turns, and it will inevitably, the same issues that you were able to brush off easily in years prior, now seem to stack up and you may feel you simply can’t get a break. In these moments, leaders must be vigilant that their general mood doesn’t darken and their energy fade to the point of creating a self-fulfilling downward spiral.
3. Dignity in the face of adversity
Consider the following: if you had taken your company public in 2006, you would almost certainly have enjoyed a very successful IPO. If you had tried the same two years later, at the onset of the great depression with exactly the same company and the same level of profitability, you likely would have failed. You did not cause the great depression. Yet in the first scenario, you would have been considered a wonderful CEO who had done an excellent job for the selling shareholders, whereas in the second example, you may have been cast as a failure.
Shareholders, boards and lenders can be impulsive and impatient. Sure enough, their impatience does not always best serve the long-term interest of the business. But you can’t control the behavior of your shareholders and board. The things you can control are your energy, dedication, core values, perseverance and hard work. While these things may not guarantee fair treatment, they most certainly guarantee dignity and self-respect.
4. Adherence to core values
Whatever the challenges you are confronted with as a leader, you have to stay true to your value system. Your set of core behaviors of fairness, speed, openness, respect, open-mindedness and empowerment should be untouchable. Regardless of the pressures, you should persist in your desire to run a customer-centric, apolitical and meritocratic organization.
Perhaps your board could not care less about fairness and inclusiveness. Or it may be that some of your executives are viewing your focus on the right corporate culture as esoteric modernism that does not serve any tangible purpose. But they are wrong and you are right to stay the course, even when ultimately the conclusion is that the disparate views on culture and core behaviors are incompatible.
5. You are more than the product of the most recent conversation
A good leader listens to well-founded arguments and should always be willing to change his or her opinion based on new insights. The ability to be humble and receptive to fresh insights is a sign of strength and self-confidence. But the requirement to constantly find verbal reassurance of one’s course is a sign of just the opposite.
The leader who always changes his or her opinion and direction based on the most recent conversation is insecure and weak. The CEO who needs to make numerous phone calls to colleagues and acquaintances outside work to find reassurance and guidance is unable to make consistent and quick decisions. Always listen carefully to well-founded arguments but be steadfast in your value system and your approach.
Opdeweegh has served as CEO for both privately and publically-held companies for more than 17 years in the industries of global technology, distribution, and supply chain optimization. With extensive board membership and experience leading companies across four continents, Opdeweegh possesses deep expertise in global business leadership and management.
Website – http://jozef-j-opdeweegh.com/
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/jos-jozef-j-opdeweegh-13986b70/
YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_D7qf0sQsSzQeDFqAYjgLQ
Twitter – https://twitter.com/jos_opdeweegh