Courage Is Required
Randy Wolken, President & CEO

Times remain uncertain. The conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, along with heightened tensions in Asia, remain. Although recession fears have receded, we still live with increased costs due to recent inflationary pressures. It will continue to be a challenging time. At the same time, many manufacturers and companies are having great success. Opportunities for growth and expansion remain, like they always do, in turbulent times. Also, Industry 4.0 (some say Industry 5.0) is rapidly expanding and impacting everyone’s work.

In times like these, courage is required. In one of my favorite studies conducted to understand how leaders navigated the uncertainty of the COVID-19 period, McKinsey outlined two types of leadership that emerged. The first type was cautious and defensive. This type focuses on the threats to deal with the volatility and uncertainty. They hunker down and concentrate on the here and now. Scenario planning, resilience preparation, balance sheet management, near-term efficiency drives, and careful inflation monitoring are their core focus areas. These leaders are in a strategic “wait and watch” mode as conditions unfold. In the author’s experience, most senior executives may fall into this category.

However, the study also identified a second type of leader. This one is taking all the right defensive actions that the first type focused on, while also leaning into the volatility. They used it as a catalyst to take action around new opportunities. They knew that volatility offered significant opportunities to those who seized it. The current disruptions invigorated these leaders, moving forward as they updated their strategy. These leaders are playing both offense and defense. This is a form of courage that is needed today.

Courage should be thoughtful and intentional. If the economy softens, talent can become available, which can help companies seize opportunities now and into the future. Markets may open, and expansions are often possible. Investing in strategic opportunities lays the foundation for future growth when the economy strengthens again. Capital investments in the technology of Industry 4.0 can pay hefty dividends into the future. Upskilling team members, starting new apprenticeship programs, and investing in leadership development are always wise investments – and are even more vital in a time of volatility.

MACNY stands ready to help you invest in your future success. Our talent development approaches, learning platforms, and cost-saving services can be an excellent start to additional planning for your strategic future. We have been helping members thrive for nearly 111 years. We are excited by the growth in manufacturing and our members’ investments. Please let us know if we can assist in any way. Anyone on your team can tap into MACNY’s expert staff assistance. And thank you for all you are already doing for our community. Your investments and commitments make us more vibrant as a community.