Lessons For Leadership During Market Volatility


Starting to drive you crazy?  It’s become the side topic in lobbies, lunchrooms, in telephone calls and even meetings, ‘What’s the market doing today?

Best I can recall, 2007/8 began with the skies getting darker and darker and then…the elevator cable snapped. The past week’s market volatility, and particularly Monday’s dive, rekindles some of those memories!  For many, it’s become front of mind and…a distraction.

Most of us have no control over the equity markets and yet, the markets seem to have control over some of us! That said, it’s hard to ignore the caution signs.  Volatility is the new norm, currently fueled more by trade issues and global uncertainty than our own domestic performance.  Most still predict 2019 will still be ‘OK,’ but, if exports are part of your revenue stream or that of your customers, the softening of global markets can’t be ignored. Learn from the past; preparing for this new reality of volatility is not an option…it’s a must.

We all learned from the hard lessons of 2007/8 and figuring out how to adjust is not as much a challenge as when to do it.  Refresh your contingency plans…if your enterprise has excess cash invested in equities make sure you can still meet your cash needs while we all ride the roller coaster. Consider trimming your inventories, both your own and that held for customers, order less but more often, reconfirm expansion plans and exceed your customers’ expectations. Retaining them is more important than ever; a slowing economy is not exactly the ideal time to find new ones. Be ready to cut the frills, they can always be added back on a moment’s notice and most of all, get everyone on board.

The message is simple, we’ve been there before, we know what to do and we’re going to stay ahead of the curve.

Let’s not forget the personal side. Folks will begin checking their investment accounts more often; they will have a need to talk about the market with anyone willing to engage and yet seldom find peace of mind in those conversations. They will be distracted, and your opinion won’t matter…but your counsel will. ‘None of us can influence the market; all of us can influence our continued success.  We’ve got a job to do here and we need to stay focused; ‘let’s be ready if we have to tough this one out.’

Keep your sanity and help others do the same. Focus on the things you control, put to work the lessons you learned ten years ago and stay the course. No one is suggesting that the market volatility we’re seeing is leading to a repeat performance of ‘07/08, but it certainly looks like it will be a while before we find calmer waters.

Read more: The Labor Market Is Changing: Is Your Company Ready?

Fred Engelfried
Fred Engelfried is Director/Chair of North Coast Holdings, Inc. and its subsidiary Lewis Tree Service, Inc. He has been a member of the board of directors of Lewis for over 20 years, and for 10 years prior to that worked with the company intermittently in various consulting capacities. He also is President of Market Sense Inc., a participative management firm that has served more than 100 regional clients over 35 years.