Like many of you, I have not seen an economic downturn like this in my entire lifetime. Most of my colleagues are facing their most challenging and difficult times, both professionally and personally. Jobs and operating expenses are being cut at record levels, leaving remaining workers to do way more with way less and do things differently than they did it yesterday. So what’s an executive, entrepreneur and professional to do to weather this unique and uncertain storm? Here are five things I feel you must do today so that you are way ahead of the pack when the storm passes:

1. Adjust your attitude on a daily basis. Yes, it’s hard work, but it is the starting point for the next four things! Remember, no storm lasts forever. Believe it! A very good friend of mine told me, “If you keep the nose of the airplane UP, the rest of the plane will follow.” Don’t talk about how bad things are. That’s the media’s job! Talk about the great things that your team can and will accomplish. Reminder: You set the tone for your entire company, office or department. Attitude is king or queen!

2. Protect your business relationships. Treat your customers, guests, clients, vendors and fellow team members like gold. When the economy is strong, everyone is happy and singing kumbaya. When the economy goes South, many people panic, freak out and lose focus. DO NOT lose focus on how you are treating your most valuable asset- people. No people, no business. Like GOLD!

3. Get creative right now. Many jobs are being cut with more on the way. If you lost your job, you might have to make a big job/career change to find work, but there are still jobs out there. It might be time for a change anyway. If you’re one of the lucky ones who are still employed, you need to think quickly about how to do things differently. You can make this decision yourself or it will be made for you! Get way outside the box for the answers. The status quo is finally going on a long, long overdue vacation and it’s a one-way trip! It’s time to re-invent yourself.

4. Focus on results. Today, more than ever, getting results is the name of the game. Set the example for others in your office or department. There is absolutely NO time for water cooler talk or any other time thieves. All working hours have to be productive hours if you are going to get results and keep your job. Yes, taking breaks is still productive as you need to recharge now more than ever. Just don’t take too many. (Energy Management tip: drink tons of water and cut way back on the junk food. Your body will need healthy snacks to keep up with the added pressure.)

5. Keep the conversations going. With all the downsizing and restructuring going on, many workers may feel like fish out of water. That’s a good thing because you and your team are going to find new ways of doing things. It will be frustrating and a bit scary, so ask lots of engaging questions, give answers, brainstorm and share best practices! What worked yesterday will not work today! Whatever you do, DO NOT stop communicating. Remember, the vast majority of problems at work and in life are due to lack of communication. Effective communication brings clarity and greatly reduces stress, which we all want to do!

While you are practicing these five things today, remember your most vital roles as leaders during these tough times: be empathetic, decisive, innovative, resourceful, proactive and bold. You have the responsibility of delivering unpopular news, but you still need to protect the one asset that ultimately drives your company’s success: Your company’s culture.

Chris Williams is a certified Executive Coach for Inspirational Consulting & Coaching, LLC. He works with senior executives and their leadership teams to dramatically improve performance and profits. To learn more about Chris and his services, please visit or email him at to “test drive your future” and schedule your complimentary get acquainted coaching session.

Author's Bio: 

Chris has thirty years of business management experience in the hospitality, service and tourism industries. After a successful career working in both corporate America and on Main Street, Chris decided to pursue his dream of inspiring others to be all they can be. He is now and executive leadership coach, consultant, author and speaker. Chris's passion is to work with executives, entreprenuers and professionals in creating powerful visions for their companies along with a smart action plan to make them more sustainable and profitable. Chris is an advocate for values driven leadership and believes it is the key to business and personal success.

Chris lives in rural Arizona with his wife and two young daughters. When he is not coaching, writing and speaking, he enjoys spending quality time with his family, volunteering in his church and community, reading leadership books and articles, cooking, yoga, jogging, gardening and golf a couple of times a year.