“...running a business in bad times is tougher than managing in good. Bad times force companies to make hard choices. So far, many have made the easy ones: scrap advertising, stop capital spending, cut business travel. But companies will eventually need to advertise, invest and travel once more. Instead, they should now start asking nasty questions about which staff should stay and which should go, which offices should close and what products they should stop making.
Time for the Shackleton approach:
After that, they need to keep up morale. That means, among other things, finding clever ways to retain their best staff (allowing temporary sabbaticals on reduced pay, for example) until the next upswing. The good boss will emulate not one of last year's management pin-ups, such as Jeff Bezos or Richard Li, but the unpretentious Ernest Shackleton, a rival in early 20th century Antarctic exploration of the more vainglorious Robert Scott. As one popular new management book explains, Shackleton found various ingenious ways to sustain the morale of his men through a winter marooned in the Antarctic, by keeping them occupied and enthusiastic, and carefully controlling the disgruntled. Scott may have reached the South Pole, but his entire team died; Shackleton rescued all his men after an extraordinary voyage to find help. The skills required to lead people through dark adversity may be less glamorous than those needed in a glittery boom, but they are a truer test of managerial talent.”