Organizational Tenacity—Surviving in Tough Times

Organizations like Southwest Airlines, Chick-fil-A, WD-40, and Wegman’s have all enjoyed long term success in part because of an unwavering commitment to their employees in both good times and bad. 

What traits do the leaders at these organizations have in common?  Three things—they are bearers of hope; they treat their people as their business partners; and they see their role as serving others. 

  • Bearers of hope. Especially in tough times, leaders at great companies keep on sending out positive messages.  That doesn’t mean that they turn their back on the truth or the present reality.  But they are optimistic.
  • Treat people as business partners.  If you want people to be on your side you have to respect them.  That means sharing information with them and involving them in decisions. Leaders need their people to trust in them and believe that the organization “means them no harm.” If employees don’t trust leaders, they spend their time looking up the organizational hierarchy instead of focusing on the customer.
  • See your role as a servant leader. Leaders in great companies see their role as supporting the people closest to the customer.  Once strategy is set, these leaders turn the organizational pyramid upside-down so everyone focuses on serving the people that are serving the customer. 

Look to your leaders to create a more tenacious and resilient organization. Are they modeling these behaviors? 

Companies that deal best with tough times don’t forget that the key to their success is maintaining a productive and motivating environment for their people.  While other companies may be tempted to temporarily shift their focus to look exclusively at the bottom line, great companies don’t forget that without their people taking care of their customers they wouldn’t be in business.

5 thoughts on “Organizational Tenacity—Surviving in Tough Times

  1. Wonderful — so inspiring. My workplace could be magical if only the managers followed this kind of advice. Instead, most aspects are managed by bullying and intimidation. Do you think corporate cultures can change? Or do they tend to stay stuck in one mode?

    • Hi Jenga,
      Corporate culture can change, but it requires determination and a lot of hard work. Check out our February 17 post below where Chris Edmonds and Bob Glaser share their thoughts on how to get started.

  2. Hi David,

    Great post. Thank you. I am a big fan of Southwest Airlines, Chick-fil-A and Marriott.

    Each has effective leaders. Each understands the value of providing good customer service. Each knows how to motive employees to deliver their best.

    Here are some of my articles from Examiner.com I recently made about each of those three companies:

    http://www.examiner.com/x-28806-Kansas-City-Leadership-Examiner~y2009m12d2-How-to-build-a-winning-culture-like-the-one-at-Southwest-Airlines

    http://www.examiner.com/x-28806-Kansas-City-Leadership-Examiner~y2009m11d24-Abolish-No-Problem

    http://www.examiner.com/x-28806-Kansas-City-Leadership-Examiner~y2009m11d9-Marriott-drives-good-customer-service-through-strong-leadership-principals

    Thanks again for all the valuable information you are sharing on you Blog.

  3. This is so true. David Witt gets it! You have to lead by example. I’ve seen companies where the leader tells the troops what they need to do and why they need to do it but in order to gain respect you have to show them that you too can do the work and lead bu example. David’s insight on leadership and customer service is fantastic. Rich Hadermann http://entrepreneur.podbean.com/

  4. Good post! Good leadership is crucial for the success of any company especially in bad times. I liked the point about being bearers of hope..that is so important in a bad economy when the spirits run low.
    Such ideas are required in today’s business world. For building new strategies, one needs to master new challenges.

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