Op-Ed: Building confidence in a recession

Business leadership is not for the fainthearted. Even in the best economic climate, making business decisions is difficult. Where do you find the self-confidence to lead a business wisely and decisively? News of a recession doubles this difficulty. The future seems uncertain and there are complex decisions to be made.

Leadership in the time of a recession takes a special kind of courage. But that courage is accessible to you. You can build your confidence. 

Where Does Confidence Come From? 

Real confidence is not arrogance or foolhardiness. Confidence is always embedded in knowing exactly who you are. It grows when you understand what you stand for and where you are headed. In other words, confidence requires clear knowledge of your identity and direction. The moment you hesitate in these areas, your confidence will begin to be impacted. That will have a ripple effect on those who you lead. The entire business will feel the weight of your insecurity. Good leaders are confident—not because they know what they are doing 100% of the time, but because they know who they are and where they are trying to go. Here are six tips for building confidence during a recession. 

1.        Review your situation 

Don’t just blindly walk forward and hope for the best. A recession is a real challenge, and one which demands to be faced front on. If you hope to act with confidence, you need to understand the reality of your situation. 

 Do you need to make changes? If so, why and how? Thinking through these questions before you act is essential. The more decisive you are, the more people are likely to trust your decisions. It’s impossible to be decisive if you’ve got secret doubts or worries. On the flip side, impulsive decisions are rarely wise. The happy medium involves careful thinking and planning. Ask yourself the hard questions. During difficult times, you need to act decisively but wisely. So, before you make a move, review your situation. 

2.        Go back to basics 

If you’re feeling worried about the future, cut the fat. What is essential? You might need to but back on extra expenses or resources. Perhaps that luxury office space or big budget event needs to wait. Anything which could be seen as extravagant should be cut. Remember, start with yourself. Don’t keep living it up and expect everyone else to cut back. Going back to basics means that when the tough times hit, you can lead confidently knowing that you have acted as prudently as possible. Leave no room for doubt—from yourself or others. 

3.        Invest in your team 

During a recession, you need a solid team around you. You’ll never regret investing in your people. A recession often leaves staff members feeling insecure and worried. That never leads to good work. Your priority should be making your team feel as secure as possible. Keep their skills and hopes high. Invest relationally and professionally. This might look like offering extra training or educational options. 

4.        Pounce 

A recession is no time to be shy. As others retreat, don’t be afraid to take calculated risks. Now is the time to look outside your comfort zone. Look at the market and see where you can gain an advantage. Push yourself and your team to think creatively and act courageously. This is a sure confidence booster because it gets you out of negative gear. By putting your foot and the pedal and trying something new, you’ll remind yourself of your drive and capacity. 

5.        Build yourself up as experts 

Confidence comes from deep seated knowledge of your vision and ability. Sharing those skills only increases confidence. A recession is an ideal opportunity to build your profile as an industry expert. Produce high quality practical content, such as articles or videos. How can you help your market and audience? How can you show what you’ve got to offer? Building credibility and expertise will keep your confidence levels high even if the sales drop during a recession. 

6.        Envision the future 

Remember, direction is key for confidence. Use the challenges of this recession to envision the future and move in the right direction. Even if this is a week by week discussion, some forward thinking is better than none. You need to be directing the ship and clearly communicating with your crew. Even if you can’t see the destination through the clouds, believe that you’ll get there—and paddle hard. Don’t let a recession set you adrift. 

There’s never a dull day in business leadership. A recession is not a death sentence, simply another opportunity to improve your skills and direct your team. Confidence is an important ingredient. You can and should build your confidence. Plan and act in a way which reinforces your self-understanding and vision for the future. 

Amanda Rose

Amanda Rose is the founder of Small Business Women Australia, Western Sydney Women and Western Sydney Advisory. She has also been named as one of the most influential people in Western Sydney.

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