• Combat stifling bureaucracy by coaching or removing indecisive managers, advises Ram Charan, co-author of Execution. “You know who they are,” he tells BusinessWeek. “They’re the ones who are slowing things down. Find out whether they can be saved. If not, get rid of them.” To the rest, ask, “What do we need to do to allow us to move faster?”
• Innovate in the face of a recession by taking the long view, rather than rushing blindly to survive. Example: Best Buy made the counterintuitive decision to focus on service by adding people, rather than firing them and cutting back service. Result: Increased customer loyalty that may pay off well beyond this economic crisis.
• Improve group performance by showing empathy. Social neuroscience research shows that when leaders show empathy, their brain chemistry changes, and that literally changes their followers’ brain chemistry. So, to be a better leader, become attuned to the concerns of others.
• Shape the stories told about your company by launching your own “newsroom” on your company web site. Introduce it as a resource where customers and media can turn for honest, up-to-date information about what’s happening within your walls.
• Cut business travel by telecommuting, like Cisco chief executive John Chambers. Using a high-definition videoconferencing system called “telepresence,” Chambers has gone from spending 60% of his time on the road to carrying out half his sales calls from a conference room. He plans to eventually travel by Cisco-developed hologram. “Video is the only technology I’ve seen CEOs turn around and sell to other CEOs,” he tells Portfolio. “Overall, we cut travel in Cisco by 20% last year and will cut it another 10% this year.”
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