How to Be a Good Leader in a Bad Economy

“My days are full of turnabouts. I have to go back on promises, reshuffle priorities, and I second-guess too much. It’s wearing on me, and I feel like I am spending hard-earned goodwill,” a member of an executive leadership team told me in one of our sessions. “I want to pause for a moment and talk about how I can be a good leader in a bad economy.”

On paper, this person was being a good leader by enacting tried-and-tested strategies to prepare for an economic downturn: becoming more hands-on and moving closer to their team, setting a faster pace, and asking people to handle bigger workloads. But instead of releasing energy and instilling confidence, these moves were wearing the leader down — and their employees, too. In their effort to build a fortress, they felt like they were about to burn down the house.

This feeling may be familiar to executives and managers who are anticipating a recession on top of the aftershocks of the pandemic. The common…

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This article was written by Merete Wedell-Wedellsborg and originally published on