The Leadership Qualities Needed To Navigate Through The Recession

29 November 2022

As the sales industry continues to prepare for the nearing recession, a clear question is being asked: How? 

  • How are companies going to get through the recession after only just recovering from the pandemic?  
  • How are employees going to work through the recession?  
  • How can we prepare? 


It wasn’t long ago that organisations struggled to understand what they needed to do in order to maintain their position in the industry while also maintaining trust with their internal teams and customers. 

As we move forward into another disruptive time within the sales industry, it's important that we remember all the lessons learned from working through the pandemic. 


How can organisations adapt to the new era? 

According to Julian Berkinshaw, there are 3 eras in which we all lived: the industrial era, the knowledge era and the post-knowledge era. Each era dictates how customers were sold to and how salespeople would sell. With a new recession encroaching on the world so soon after a global pandemic, it seems we may be coming closer to a new era. During this time there will be a greater focus on salespeople and what they need in order to do their best.  


In an ideal world, industries would always be prepared for unforeseen risks in the industry, however, it's almost impossible to truly anticipate the requirements an organisation or individual would need to stay on the right track, ensuring businesses continue to thrive during hard times. With that being said, Cathy Ward, Chief Operating Officer for Asian Pacific and Japan at SAP, has previously given her opinion on how organisations could in fact prepare themselves for the future.  


According to her understanding and experience in the industry, organisations must address their people, business and operations first in order to understand how to move forward during difficult times. Focusing on these three categories will enable better readiness for unforeseen risks in the future.   

This will also force organisations to continuously learn and reflect, which will help them be prepared for future uncertainty as much as possible. 


Key traits of a sales leader 

Very soon, businesses will be tested once again on their ability to adapt to major changes quickly and under immense pressure. Understandably, organisations are concerned about how they, as a company, will navigate through the pressures that will come from working through a recession, after getting through a turbulent time due to the pandemic not too long ago. Exceptional sales leaders will especially be essential members of sales teams. 

During a conversation, Dr Philip Squire, CEO of Consalia, was asked the question:  


Are leaders born, or can they be made?  

According to him, it comes down to circumstance. Like finding a diamond. Under the right conditions, a miner can get lucky. His belief is that true leadership skills and traits reveal themselves under difficult circumstances. A recession is one such circumstance where many organisations may see great leadership skills in more of their salespeople. But what are the traits that make a good sales leader? Dr Phil believes some of the most important traits include: 


  • Facing ambiguity head on  
  • Adapting to change 
  • Cultivating the right habits 
  • Clear purpose 



The generative leader 

Understanding that we are entering a very difficult time, what kind of leaders will we need as we enter into this new era? Given what has been learned as a result of working through the pandemic, businesses may thrive with the skills of generative leadership. By definition, these are people who seek to inspire and enrich an individual’s experience at work by building ideal environments through work-cultures, enabling employees to bring out their best. When individuals are placed in an environment that provides them with the tools to do their best, there are always positive outcomes.  

In addition to the skills of a generative leader, according to Dr Phil, having a high level of emotional intelligence is also an ideal trait for leaders to have, as this will be needed in order to get through the next few months during the recession. 

A team is only as strong as its weakest player. Making sure this member has the tools they need to do their best will only enhance the overall performance of the team. Having a leader that has the skills to adapt to rapid change and has a purpose for their decisions will prove to be a crucial skill. This will help teams get through the many crisis situations that are sure to come. 


So as we come nearer to the recession, what are the qualities you think leaders will need? 

To hear a deeper discussion about this topic, listen to episode 57 of the Sales Transformation Podcast:  What can sales professionals do to prepare for the recession? With Dr Philip Squire and Will Squire 

Listen now

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