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NZ Leaders Stronger and Wiser from the Recession

NZ Leaders Stronger and Wiser from the Recession

NZ business leaders have come out of the recession stronger and wiser but must make sure they don’t slip back into the “leadership lazy boy” say leadership development company Catapult and EMA Central.

Catapult and EMA Central carried out research with the leaders of over 70 organisations to find out what they have learned from navigating their organisations through the worst of the recession. The resulting report, Mining the Diamonds – Leadership Lessons from the Recession, reveals that over 70 percent of leaders said the recession had changed them, and in a positive way.

“It’s forced them to act more strategically, collaboratively and decisively” says Catapult Director Nick Sceats.

“A core job of leaders is to future proof their organisation - making sure they deliver the right things to customers in the right way. Before the recession many leaders weren’t actively reviewing their services or products to establish how vital they were to customers, or where they could add more value. Things were comfortable. The recession brought about a radical change in market conditions and forced leaders to take a strategic look at their business. In effect the recession bounced many leaders out of their leadership lazy boys.”

Lynn Harris of EMA Central says an increase in leadership courage and decisiveness is also evident from the research.

“During good times it’s easy not to address things such as poor performance or destructive silo behaviour between different parts of the business. But in a recession there’s not this luxury – many leaders reported that the recession forced them to have the difficult discussions and make the hard decisions”.

She says another overwhelming lesson from the research is the importance of communication: lots of it - open and two way.

“Many leaders communicated openly and often about the challenges the organisation was facing and they encouraged employees to contribute ideas on how to get through the recession. In return for their candidness and collaboration these leaders believe they have been repaid with increased employee trust and loyalty.”

“Leaders can apply this lesson during good times” says Lynn Harris. “Open and regular communication builds trust and employee motivation”.

Nick Sceats says another key theme from the research was that many leaders recognised the need to remain calm, confident and positive, even under great stress.

“A leader’s mood is contagious. While a leader might say and do all the right things if they are being anxious and worried - that’s what people will pick up on.”

With the worst of the recession appearing to be over, EMA Central and Catapult caution leaders not to fall back into their “leadership lazy boys”.

“We’ve seen a lift in leadership driven by a need to weather the storm - now the opportunity is for leaders to apply these new practices and skills to lift performance and productivity.”

The report, Mining the Diamonds – Leadership Lessons from the Recession can be found on or


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