The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the global economy into recession, over the past few months. As several countries across the globe resorted to lockdown to flatten the infection curve, the economy started shrinking, and growth took a back seat. Millions of citizens were confined to their homes, shutting down the business and hence ceasing almost all economic activity. IMF predicts the global economy to shrink by 3 % in 2020- the worst halt to economic activities post The Great Depression of 1930.
No wonder a lot of corporates are enforcing measures like pay cuts, layoffs, and right-sizing to perform cost-cutting in the company’s day-to-day operations. While MNCs with large financial clouds have been able to absorb the shock by implementing pay cuts, startups have gone bankrupt and have been forced to lay off a massive proportion of the employees.
Corporate teams are getting disrupted because of this layoff policy. To create a winning environment even in these trying times of the economy, business leaders need to show trust in their team. It is essential to understand that a diligent employee, even with the sharpest of minds, cannot perform to his full potential if he feels insecure about his position in the company.
Leaders must step up now and play an essential role in building corporate teams based on mutual trust. In an ailing economy, the battle of one-upmanship between 2 successful employees can prove to be detrimental for the team morale in the presence of an unassertive leader. I will site a couple of examples here that can reinforce the importance of sound corporate leaders in these trying times for the global economy.
Ahead of the 2019 season of the Indian Premier League, Royal Challengers Bangalore bought West Indian batsman Shimron Hetmeyer for 4.2 crores. Hetmeyer started the season for RCB as a middle-order batsman, where he failed in 4 consecutive matches. RCB lost all those four matches and immediately discarded the young West Indian from the playing 11. He was brought back into the team only for the last league match when RCB was already out of the competition. He scored a match-winning 75 in the game, thus underlining talent mismanagement by RCB’s leadership group.
In the same IPL season, Shane Watson of CSK kept on struggling in the initial matches, much like Hetmeyer. As an opener, he had an average of 18.75 in the first eight matches. However, Chennai Super Kings kept their trust on the Aussie and continued to include him in the playing 11 in subsequent games. The patience and persistence of the leadership group paid off as Watson scored 251 runs in his next eight innings, which included a match-winning 50 in the finals.
Trust and persistence with the right individual always pay off only if the leader has the right eye for identifying talent and work ethic. The Pakistan-great Inzamam-ul-Haq was lucky to have an exceptional leader like Imran Khan at the helm of things during the early days of his international career. Inzy had scored 123 runs from his first eight matches in the 1992 Cricket World Cup. Despite lack of performance, the meticulous captaincy of Imran Khan ensured that he stuck to Inzamam in the semifinal as well. Inzamam smashed a 37-ball-60 to eliminate Martin Crowe’s New Zealand from the competition and even went on to play a match-winning knock of 42 in the finals against England. Pakistan won the coveted trophy for the first time in history, and Inzamam had a significant role to play in the same.
Successful companies are respected and revered for generations together because they thrive in high -pressure situations and repeatedly trump their opponents in big finals. This is essentially where Pit Sampras was different from Tim Henman. For 5-6 consecutive years in the 1990s, Tim would be the best player of the tournament till the semifinal, while Sampras would often encounter a pitfall or two, on his way to the semis. However, in pressure knockout matches, Sampras would thrive, and Tim would invariably succumb to pressure. Tim Henman is one of those very few players who ended his career, without a single Grand Slam, despite being in the Top 10 ATP rankings for a substantial period.
Corporates would surely be looking to build successful teams to lead them out of this economic slump. If the business leaders want each of their team members to thrive in pressure situations like Pit Sampras, the company environment has to breed mutual trust among its employees. Its time for leaders to come forward and uphold the value of team spirit. Companies will only be able to recover from this recession if the best employees of the company work for each other, rather than trying to outfox each other.