Everyone looks like a superstar when a gale force wind blows behind them. Strong tailwinds make average performers look special. As one leader we know likes to say, “Even turkeys fly in hurricanes.”
Headwinds, on the other hand, expose who is truly exceptional.
When markets turn south, and when the appetite for your products or services disappears, we get to learn who the top performers really are. Weak performers and ineffective leaders wait out the bad times. They twiddle their thumbs, hoping the headwinds pass by relatively quickly. They become inactive or paralyzed by the bad news all around them. They judge themselves on a relative basis to feel better about their weak performance.
In contrast, the best leaders and performers act aggressively in down moments and times. With the wind in their face, they seek out opportunities that only bad times offer. Most notable among them are fostering deeper relationships with friends, colleagues, clients, and industry peers.
In downtimes, because there are no deals to be done, fewer transactions to be executed, and a slowing of proposals and commercial activities, the frequency of conversations also diminishes. Top performers know that new relationships are won, and ongoing relationships are deepened, in the bad times. By engaging in more frequent conversation when there is no short-term benefit, we convince others that it is really the relationship that matters to us. When the winds change, those same people prefer to communicate and work with us.
Everyone looks like a superstar when a gale force wind blows behind them. Don’t be fooled. Top performers shine in good times and bad, especially in how they invest in relationships. Get relationally aggressive in the hard times.