Feature Article - July/August 2008

Dealing with the Daily Drama

Leading Through an Economic Downturn

By Catherine Eberlein Pfister


Record-high gas prices. Foreclosures. Job losses. Retail closures. Recession. Economic downturn.

We all are bombarded with these words and their accompanying images on a daily basis. And, let's face it, you'd have to live and work in a bubble for it not to affect your psyche in some way. That's why we've turned to Dan Coughlin for his management coaching advice on how to separate the drama from the reality.

Dan is a business keynote speaker, management consultant and author of Accelerate: 20 Practical Lessons to Boost Business Momentum. He speaks on entrepreneurial habits, quality, leadership, branding, sales and innovation. Keep reading for some key thoughts to take with you as you continue to steer your workforce, your customers, your sales reps and your partners through the current stormy economic seas.

P.I.P.: What is your take on current economic trends?

Dan: Other people probably have a more technical definition of an economic trend than I do, but here's mine. An economic trend is a bunch of dots. If you took all of the economic performances of all of the businesses around the world on a given day and averaged them into a single dot, then you would have the beginning of a trend. If you did that every day for several weeks, months and years, then you would have a bunch of dots. You could then draw a best-fit curve that represents the flow of the dots. At that point you could say, 'We're heading into a recession,' or 'We're in a recession.'

You could then use either of those statements to justify slowing down spending to save capital and to stop investing in creating innovative ways to add more value to customers. I suggest you don't do that.