If you were a visiting alien (and if you are, then welcome to our planet), you would know we were in an economic downturn within about 5 minutes of landing here. It seems every TV newsflash, newspaper headline and radio interview is designed to remind us how bad things are and what a mess we're in.
For what it's worth, I don't agree.
I think this 'recession' is largely the result of a media bandwagon and their (and the Government's) apparent belief that everything that matters happens in London.
I know many people have lost their jobs or had their savings and pensions devalued - but many millions of people have either been largely unaffected or are actually better off as a result of falling prices and reduced interest rates. Personally, I don't give two hoots about the city (with either a big or a small C). OK, I know the stock market affects all of us eventually, but I perceive that the real source of the pain we suffer is our own willingness to be persuaded that all is doom and gloom and the resulting loss of confidence.
So my point is this.
As a leader, I've said in many previous posts that, above all, it is your job to inspire and to motivate.
This requires you to develop and use the ability to remain positive in the face of adversity and to spread enthusiasm and a can-do attitude throughout your team and your organisation.
Experience (and history) tells us that the best organisations prosper in a recession - weaker competitors fall, their customers seek to move to credible alternatives and staff will commit to (or at least tolerate) difficult changes that bring the hope of survival and future prosperity.
It can be a time of great opportunity, where the weak grow weaker and the strong grow stronger. The leader's job is to lead people away from lemming-like fear and weakness and help them take advantage of the many benefits that a recession can bring for the good of your organisation, their colleagues, themselves and your customers.
I'm not talking about blind faith here; just logical positivism. People need a leader who exudes legitimate self-confidence and has the capability to back it up with leadership action. Businesses who actively seek to gain competitive advantage in a downturn often make huge strides - those who retreat, cut, shrink and panic often fail. It's survival of the fittest.
If you've ever watched Cesar Millan on his TV show, The Dog Whisperer (and if you haven't, you should - it's some of the best leadership training you'll ever see - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cesar_Millan for more info ), you'll know he sets great store by exuding 'calm, assertive energy' and the establishment of 'rules, boundaries and limitations'. He may be talking about training a dog, but the capabilities and characteristics of a 'pack leader' in the canine and business worlds are remarkably similar!
I urge you to look afresh at your market and your organisation, to see the opportunities that are and will become available and to take positive action to lead your people to take advantage.
Calm, assertive energy.