Leadership Lessons From The Great Recession Part 3
“What leadership lessons did you learn from the Great Recession?” That was one of the questions I asked 10 senior level public relations and corporate communications executives while interviewing them on leadership for The Public Relations Strategist.
I’ve shared insights from six of them in Part 1 and Part 2 of this blog series. Today you’ll read the leadership lessons of the Great Recession as learned by Chris Atkins, communications consultant and author, and Andy Polansky, chief executive officer, Weber Shandwick.
Atkins: Take this in the context of what I was living through at Standard & Poor’s: The sustained level of meanness leveled at the company for the four years I was there was unprecedented. I was asked to be part of a team that was under assault for our business model and our past business practices.
Part of my role was to be a calm voice. I had to stay very focused on what we needed to do to get through it. I think this was quite valued at the time by the leadership. I had been through things like this many times before. I knew people were going to be nasty about us. And I knew not to take it personally. I learned that the crazier things get, the calmer I get, and I think that helped the PR function have more credibility in the board room.
I had confidence in the fact I’d been doing this for more than 30 years, brought a valuable sense of perspective, and to keep that perspective. Not that I didn’t have plenty to learn, but it was good to know that I’d seen some of this before.
Polansky: It’s fair to say it was a challenging time for all businesses. Those that have strong cultures and great work environments can get through it. When the economic cycle is such that revenues are down considerably, and you have to make tough decisions in regards to staffing, it’s especially challenging when you’re known for being a great place to work. In those times, it’s more important to be thoughtful, consider what makes your organization what it is, make the decisions with great care, and use transparent communications.
I’ll share more insights on this topic from Steve Cody and Barri Rafferty in Part Four. In the meantime, what leadership lessons did you get from The Great Recession?