I worked with a large real estate company years ago - during the mortgage crisis which sent the whole industry into a downturn. Negative economic headlines abounded. Our CEOs were visibly shaken, stock prices were down, investors were worried. Across the industry, companies were lowering their rental prices, giving a way lots of amenities, and dealing with discouraged employees. Layoffs were becoming commonplace, travel and meetings were cancelled, and many real estate employees were considering leaving the industry altogether. As this went on, our company was not immune to the effects.

And then our COO noticed that our company business metrics were showing slight improvement. Maybe it was time for hope.

Yet, the headlines told us otherwise. CEOs, industry leaders and investors stayed in protective mode. The economy was clearly in crisis, so companies kept their prices low and giveaways high.

But the courageous leadership team at our company decided to take a different path. They brought their leaders together (yes, spent the money on travel!) and the COO gave a moving speech, which he called: Watch our dashboard, not the headlines. Indeed, the dashboard was telling us we could start raising our prices again to get back in line with the value of our assets and we could start making small investments in our operations. The headlines, on the other hand, were still looking backward.

Our leaders became hopeful, which spread through the whole organization. We gave our sales teams the tools and mindset needed to sell again. We all started to notice the small signs - that lead to bigger signs - of growth, and it was electric.

Our competitors stayed in protection mode, but we got in front. Investors were skeptical but hearing the confidence and logic of our leadership team gave them some optimism. And, as it turned out, the dashboard was correct, the COO was right, our employees were right, and our customers were ready to pay more to get the quality we delivered.

By being the first to lean into our business model and pricing strategy again, we captured revenue that our competitors gave up. And our stock price ticked up as others watched.

That leadership conference had a theme: it was Pride, Optimism and Confidence. Although we didn’t feel that way going into the conference, we did when we left. And we all learned something that today’s leaders can take away to lead your own companies through uncertain times:

  • Be bold and give your organization something to be proud of
  • Don’t be afraid to set the headlines aside and watch your business instead
  • Keep your eye on the metrics you know matter
  • Inspire your team to stay focused on what your company is good at
  • Don’t over-rotate into risk-aversion – share any good news when you have it
  • Have the confidence to bring people together to get the right things done

Now is the time to lean in with pride in your organization and your team, optimism about how you can navigate any storm and confidence that you, your leaders, and your teams know how to get there!

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