Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Hunkering down does not mean being quiet

According to a recent survey performed by Management Action Programs Inc. (MAP), Sherman Oaks, Calif., the nation's top CEOs are adjusting to the tough economy by changing their tactics.

"Given the volatile economy of late, a fresh trend in CEO behavior has emerged, which is shedding light on a new kind of leadership," the company said in a release today. "Many CEOs are refraining from making bold, sudden business moves right now. Instead, they're opting to shift the management gears into a 'hunkering down and building up the business' position."

What that means, according to MAP, is that CEOs are "fine-tuning internal operations by bolstering the quality of company culture, internal communications and customer service."

What a great time to be a corporate communicator! CEOs finally get the importance of communication and there are great new Web 2.0 tools to make it easier and more effective than ever before.

Now is the time to be innovative, to step forward and be heard. No where is this more true than in my own industry, the US home finance business. Hard hit from a number of directions, executives in mortgage finance are not making any big moves right now and they're not talking about innovation. Instead, they are being quiet, releasing only what news they feel is absolutely essential.

I think that's a mistake. This is an opportunity for forward-thinking executives to get famous for leading the industry out of this quagmire. Now is the time for leaders to make certain that they are being heard.

MAP seems to agree. According to Lee Froschheiser, president and CEO of MAP, "the survey results highlight the major significance of strengthening business fundamentals and, especially, communication. Bottom line, clear communication is the most important key to a business leader's success."

Will brilliant financial services leaders step forward? I doubt it, but it might make for a great case study when all the dust settles. There are certainly brilliant people out there, but I anticipate that many of the industry's current leaders will be shuffled off quietly to enjoy their severance packages in retirement. The younger executives they trained will move up and the cycle will continue.

Other industries may have a better chance of capitalizing on this opportunity, combining the leadership and vision of a great CEO with the great new communication tools available today. Leveraged properly, it could allow us all to come out of this downturn stronger than we've ever been before.

Put your head in the sand, and you'll miss out. As Froschheiser puts it, "To properly manage and grow a business through tough times, you must be an effective, compelling communicator."
Post a Comment