Leadership in the new economy 

An Interview with Larry Nelson, W3W3.com Network

“The very strategies that enabled you to stay alive over the last recession, are not the strategies that are going to enable you to grow in the future.” said Dr. Jana Matthews.

Larry sat down with Jana, founder and CEO of The Jana Matthews Group, who is an international expert on entrepreneurial leadership and business growth. Based in Boulder, Colorado. Jana Matthews believes the economy is turning around. Jana suggests CEOs should be thinking about five things.  There’s more to be heard in her interview but here are some highlights.

No. 1 “It is the leader who determines the culture. Is yours a culture of optimism or pessimism? To be positive, upbeat, expecting success, or pessimistic and down trodden, that’s up to the leader to determine. Optimism suggests a confidence, an ability to think outside the box. Jana said, “We used to say at the Kauffman Center, it’s keeping your knees bent so you could go in a lot of different directions, the willingness to be flexible with a fallback position, and be able to figure out how to make it work.” Jana goes on to say, “Optimism is important but, in your heart, in your office, when you look at your financials and your customers, you’re realistic. But to your employees you need to project optimism and hope that it’s going to get better as opposed to the pessimism of ‘oh my god, we’re in free fall’.”

No. 2 Look at your people. You need to signal to your good people, the ones you want to keep, the ones that you think will help build your company, that they’re really important to your future. Because when this job market opens up, people are going to jump.

No. 3 “Look at your executive team. The team that helps you baton down the hatches and get through a recession may not be the team that can lead the company into the next stage of growth, and to the next level. A very successful past client said, “The bean counters were really important during the recession, but we need to have more of those dreamers again.”  The people who got yyou here may not be the ones who can take you to the next level, and that’s one of a company leader’s most difficult judgments. But those kinds of decisions are part of leadership. You must look at what the company needs to acheive its future.”

No. 4 “I would take a look at my customers because in the last few years we have held onto customers just so we could have revenue. But you and I know that we get about 80% of our revenue from 20% of our customers.” In some cases the others actually cost you as they require over servicing, they don’t pay on time, they complain, they send products back, want custom revisions, etc. so this is the time to “weed the garden” and get rid of unprofitable customers.

No. 5 “You need to think about your strategy for growth — not just “survival”. Are you going to develop new products, product extensions, expand into new territories, go global? Any of these strategies will likely require new people and possibly new partnerships and channels. Make the investments now so you’ll be able to accelerate your growth when the recovery gains momentum.