Strategic Courage Is Needed
Randy Wolken, President & CEO

We are in uncertain times. We are emerging from the early phase of the COVID pandemic. However, the Omicron variant is still with us, and future surges in the virus are likely coming. The war in Ukraine and heightened tensions in Asia remain. We are seeing the beginnings of a global recession and the highest inflation rate in 40 years. 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. And, Industry 4.0 is rapidly expanding and impacting everyone’s work.

In times like these, strategic courage is needed. In a recent article by Michael BirshanIshaan Seth, and Bob Sternfels of McKinsey, they outline two types of leadership emerging. The first type is cautious and defensive. They focus on the threats in order 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 core areas of their focus. 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, they also identify a second type of leader. This one is taking all the right defensive actions while also leaning into the volatility. They use it as a catalyst to take action around new opportunities. The current disruptions often invigorate these leaders, moving forward as they rejuvenate their strategy. These leaders are playing both offense and defense. This is a form of strategic courage that is likely needed today.

I agree with the need for thoughtful, strategic courage. If the economy weakens, talent can become available, which can help companies seize an opportunity 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 110 years. We are excited by the growth in manufacturing and our members’ investments. Please let us know if we can help 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. You make us more vibrant as a community because of your investments and commitments.