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How to lead now. The four things the best companies are doing

Q: What will the best companies do during this recession?

A: 1. They’ll get ahead of the curve and conserve their cash.

2. They’ll take out frills and focus on the core.

3. And then they’ll think of how the market will have changed in two or three years and what innovation they will need to have done to compete successfully…

4. …and they’ll do that innovation now.

Source: Ram Charan, the renowned business advisor, talking to Harvard Management Update about how to lead through the recession.

Charan says you need to lead now “Head in, hands on” – fully immersed in operations, and practising what he calls ‘management intensity’ – as the situation is so uncertain. Basically he’s arguing for a stronger focus on execution.

I’d add beware of micro-management, though. So much is out of your control in a recession that the temptation is to tighten control over the bits you can control, as a kind of compensation. It’s an illusion. You’ll just choke off people’s initiative and drive if you do that too much.

The full interview is here.

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