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7 tips to banish the bearish

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Business consultant Gayle Lantz wants the rest of your year to be bullish. Here’s how:

1. Remember that the downturn won’t last. Remind your employees that in business, as in life, it has never made sense to follow the herd, whether it’s doom-and-gloom thinking or “irrational exuberance.”

2. Encourage optimism. Now is the time to seize opportunities others will abandon.

3. Ask better questions. You aren’t required to hatch all the solutions yourself. That’s why, presumably, you’ve hired people who know more about their specialties than you do. Mine their ideas and those of your customers.

4. Don’t run away from risk. You don’t have to be reckless to test new things.

5. Help people beat the recession. The way to your customers’ hearts is through getting them on sounder financial footing. If your clients trust you—and they should—listen closely and collaborate on a new approach.

6. Celebrate success. The rewards don’t have to be lavish, but they do need to be meaningful. Toyota’s employee suggestion program draws 1.5 million suggestions a year, and every year it celebrates the single best idea by giving out one fountain pen. Compare that with Lehman Brothers’ million-buck bonuses.

7. Invest in your top 5%. Your future is linked to your best performers. Identify them and invite them to engage in strategic discussions on both the short and long term. You can’t control the performance level of America, Lantz says, but you can control your own: “We’ve been bearish for too long now, and it’s time to get bullish.”

— Adapted from Take the Bull by the Horns, Gayle Lantz, WorkMatters Press.

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