Recently, I was having a conversation with a client when he mentioned that they were working harder to develop their leaders now, during the challenging economy. I asked him how they were justifying the investment of time and money given that their business was well short of their revenue targets. He said, “our philosophy is to train in the off-season because soon it will be game time and that’s when we need our people at their best.”
Different businesses go through different cycles, but no matter what your business cycle looks like, you must find time to focus on the people in your business. They ultimately determine it's potential.
Although it never seems to be convenient, businesses that don't find opportunities to improve the capabilities of their people don't have the leaders and employees they need when the storm comes. Sometimes the market or the season creates those opportunities for us and sometimes we have to create them for ourselves. Either way, we have to make certain that they happen.
When the business is challenged, leadership gets hard. Leaders that have earned trust, understand how to coach effectively and can keep their team focused are priceless during these challenging periods. But they only get that way by learning, practicing, and being coached when the organization invests in that improvement and creates time for it to happen.
It’s often been said that you reap what you sow and many organizations are learning that lesson the hard way in this economy. We constantly ask ourselves in the business world how can we reap more today. These challenging market conditions are an opportunity for us to learn that maybe the right question is how can we plant more for tomorrow.