Leadership Lessons From The Great Recession, Part 2
As part of a series I on leadership I did for The PR Strategist, I asked 10 public relations agency and corporate leaders “What leadership lessons did you learn from the Great Recession?”
Last week I shared answers from Peter Marino, VP-Communications at MillerCoors, Renee Wilson, chief client officer, North America, MSLGroup, Renzi Stone, chairman and CEO of integrated agency Saxum, and Todd Defren, CEO of SHIFT Communications.
This week I’ll share valuable insights from Elise Mitchell, APR, Fellow PRSA, CEO of Mitchell Communications Group and Dentsu Public Relations Network, and Anthony (Tony) D’Angelo, senior manager, communications, ITT Corporation.
Elise Mitchell: A key decision with which we wrestled was whether or not we’d be willing to keep taking risks the way we had. We were sitting around a table with the team, celebrating the fact that we were moving into new space. But people were worried for their jobs. So I reminded them we were nimble, that we could respond to clients need for change, that we were great at responding to opportunity.
We sat by our clients’ sides during those tough times, and we focused on helping our clients win. We knew if we helped the clients through it, it would get us through it. And clients did turn to us, even during the toughest times.
The lesson was: Stay calm during uncertainty, focus on your clients, and respond to the call, no matter what it might be. We focused on being known as the firm that could deliver, no matter what the situation. And this gave us great credibility with our clients. Also we had a diverse base, and that helped us weather the storm.
We actually grew during the Great Recession, so we learned about managing a team through dramatic growth. If you don’t manage growth well, quality can suffer, you might hire the wrong people, and not train them well. Getting this wrong can be just as damaging to your company as shrinking. So I went to Dartmouth’s Executive Education Program, called “Growing Your Business To Scale.” I took those learnings and invested in Operations, Growth, People, and Culture. The foundation of your company is legal and financial. You have to commit to this.
Tony D’Angelo: There were some important leadership lessons from the Great Recession. When I came out of college, in the early 80s, all was doom and gloom. Then it was the rocking 80s. Most of my career was during unprecedented booms, and even though there were adjustments (the dot.com boom, the recession of 2001/2), there was nothing this dire.
I learned that if you’re forced into a situation where you must look at fundamental organization design, you learn you can do more with less, and you can always do better. I’ve been lucky enough to work with organizations that were always about continuous improvement. Even if you’re the clear leader, you’re not done—you can always find a way to do better.
I’ll be sharing more insights on this topic from other leads over the next few weeks. In the meantime, what leadership lessons did you learn from The Great Recession?
Photo Credit: Corrie… via Compfight cc