Agile Leadership

Here is a Forbes article that hits on a crucial topic for the next generation of leaders – agility (h/t Rick Brimacomb).  Short article but let’s set the table:

For companies to continue succeeding, next generation leaders must be able to handle any curve ball thrown their way. Leading through this new business environment requires the capability to sense and respond to changes in the business environment with actions that are focused, fast and flexible. The best way to put it: next generation leaders have to be agile.

Exactly.  The business market moves in rapid, titanic shifts requiring leaders to be nimble and agile to react.  The author’s description:

Agile individuals are motivated by expanding their knowledge, questioning the status quo, and actively migrate towards challenges. They thrive off of solving the difficult problems within the organization, as they believe it mutually benefits themself and the company.

I have worked extensively with a couple of leaders that fit this description and they are impressive to observe.  In my experience, they possess not only the agility described above but also an anticipation of what is coming.  When you combine anticipation with agility, you find a powerful leader who can move his or her company successfully through the ever-changing and evolving marketplace.

As they say, read the entire article.

How To Tell You Are In A Bad Economy

From the Herman Trend Alert (emphasis mine):

In December, companies with fewer than 300 employees experienced employment growth of 1.54 percent, representing the largest percentage increase since June 2010.

1.54 percent?  That is encouraging?  I know, I realize there has been little to no growth, but 1.54 percent is almost as miniscule as it can be.  This is the largest growth in 18 months.  To say it is a difficult employment market would be a monumental understatement.

A Great Headline

From Forbes.com:

How To Handle Post-Recession Job Stress

Post-Recession?  I think most people are still dealing with Recession Job Stress.  It gets worse:

The worst of the waves of layoffs may be over, but countless American workers who still have their jobs are unhappy at them, overloaded with increased responsibilities, short of colleagues to share the burden, and unsure where they can turn to look for something better. Few people got raises last year–many took pay cuts–and it’s not looking like pay hikes will come anytime soon.

Again, this viewpoint strikes me as seriously off target.  I equate this type of unhappiness to people who complain that their ice cream is too cold.  There are countless people attempting to find employment so stories involving the stress of not receiving a raise seems out of touch.

Strongest Performing Cities

I’m not sure what to make of this, but it caught my eye:

Overall, the reading on local economies is still grim though, as home prices continue to fall and unemployment rates remain historically high, the report said.

The list of strongest-performing areas included several middle American cities that were boosted by an uptick in manufacturing jobs and home price declines that were more modest than in other parts of the nation. The weakest performers were mostly sunbelt cities which saw some of the largest declines in home prices and continue to lag behind the rest of the country.

chart_recession_proof_cities.03.gif

Honolulu just jumps off the page for me.

News From The Twilight Zone

From CNNMoney.com:

A jobless recovery? Hardly.

By historical standards, the labor market is recovering nicely — job growth has started earlier than in past recessions.

I guess I was unaware of how good it is out there.  I think this article comes with a large serving of Kool-Aid also.

Job Progress

I’m beginning to think we are becoming immune to employment reporting.  A sentence from the beginning and end of a CNNMoney.com article (emphasis mine):

The good news: Overall employers announced fewer planned job cuts.

Economists are expecting the report to show there were 120,000 jobs lost in August, an improvement over July’s 131,000 job loss.

In a prolonged recession, I guess these pieces of information are uplifting.

The Stalled Economic Engine

You know this entire GDP reporting process is an absolute joke.  This AP article indicates that the Q2 GDP is going to be revised down…a LOT:

The government is about to confirm what many people have felt for some time: The economy barely has a pulse.

The Commerce Department on Friday will revise its estimate for economic growth in the April-to-June period and Wall Street economists forecast it will be cut almost in half, to a 1.4 percent annual rate from 2.4 percent

Honestly, if a publicly-traded company were to do this, executives would be incarcerated.  How the government gets away with this propaganda is beyond me.

But if you want to get to the crux of the problem, you need read a bit further into the article (emphasis mine):

Consumers can’t be sure their jobs are safe, with unemployment so high. Business executives don’t know if sales and profits will grow enough to justify adding jobs. And potential changes to tax laws at the end of this year and other policy reforms also make it hard to plan ahead, economists say.

People have been overwhelmed by uncertainty,” said Ethan Harris, an economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Uncertainty stalls business growth.

Good Sign, Bad Sign

As is so often the case in this economy, the market is sending mixed signals.  From one article on abcnews.com:

The economic strength, both in U.S. and international markets, plus cost cuts, higher rates and fuel surcharges led to a 33 percent increase in first-quarter profit. UPS boosted its full-year outlook when it pre-released its earnings two weeks ago.

And one paragraph later:

UPS Inc., also known as United Parcel Service, restructured its business over the last 18 months, cutting jobs in the process. The shipper doesn’t plan any significant hiring anytime soon, at least until the recovery is on more solid footing.

Jobless recovery anyone?  The difficulty is that hiring is a lagging indicator and it does appear that 2010 will be a slow hiring period in spite of a potential recovery in process.

A Good Employment Sign

From the indeed.com blog:

For the first time in 2010, our Job Market Competition report shows all major metropolitan areas have fewer than 10 unemployed persons per job posting – a notable lessening of job competition since our last report.

Washington D.C. has only one unemployed per job posting, maintaining its first place position as the city with the least competition for jobs.  At the other end of the scale, Detroit moved up one place from the bottom position: it now has nine unemployed per job posting, an improvement from 13 earlier this year.

The post contains the top 5 and bottom 5 metro markets based on number of unemployed per job posting.  No surprise that D.C. is number 1 considering the ever-expanding government.  Did you ever think we would be at a point where moving below 10 unemployed people per opening was improvement?

A Real-World Economic Prediction

This story from abcnews.com carries some weight in terms of a real economic forecast.  It isn’t good:

More of America’s largest companies will shrink their staffs than will hire in the next six months, according to the latest survey of their CEOs.

Nineteen percent of the CEOs expect to expand their work forces, while 31 percent predict a decrease in the next six months, according to a quarterly survey from the Business Roundtable released Tuesday. That’s slightly better than the 13 percent who expected increased hiring three months earlier. At that time, 40 percent forecast cuts.

Granted, the trend is good, but the actualities are not.  2010 is shaping up to be a lackluster hiring climate.  We work with CEO’s in some of our customer organizations and we are hearing similar reports.  The general consensus is to sit tight until there is some discernable signs of a recovery.  A healthcare overhaul, cap and trade and tax increases are not helping stimulate the economy (emphasis mine):

A new question on the Roundtable survey asked CEOs to identify their greatest cost pressures. The largest group — about one-third — cited health care.

One other note is the 2010 revenue forecast.  I don’t know if I have ever seen a more difficult task for our customers.  The uncertainty is astonishingly high.  One thing it does point back to – you better have strong qualifying salespeople on your team in this climate.  If not, your forecast will be replete with deals welded to the 90-day close…that never close.