Four things the best leaders do to assure success even in tough times
The writer

Four things the best leaders do to assure success even in tough times

Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor and business magnate who has invested in several businesses across several industries said, "When a management with a reputation for brilliance tackles a business with a reputation for bad economics, it is the reputation of the business that remains.” 


“When a management with a reputation for brilliance tackles a business with a reputation for bad economics, it is the reputation of the business that remains.” 

I BELIEVE that this statement applies to the economy in which businesses operate. I dare say that when a management with a reputation for brilliance leads a business in a challenging economy, what remains is the reputation of the economy. Isaac Boamah, the Chief Investment Officer at IC Asset Managers (Ghana) Limited, agrees and puts it succinctly, “The economy trounces everyone."

Of course, the economy is challenging for every business. Leaders are grappling with various challenges, such as supply chain disruptions, talent wars, business fraud, utility supply challenges, cybersecurity threats, and geopolitical issues. 

The number of obstacles leaders face is daunting and ranges from complex to "wicked" problems. Every leader is looking for a way out of this scenario. 

In my work and interactions with several leaders over the past quarter, I have learnt practices leaders in different industries have adopted to thrive in these challenging times. 

The ideas may seem simple, yet they yield significant results when applied effectively to the challenges. Here are four ways that successful leaders ensure success even in tough times.

Maintain a dual focus on the present and the future:

The temptation to manage day-to-day is always present and reinforced during a crisis. The myriad of challenges that show up daily can push leaders to focus on the short term, attempting to manage day by day to survive the current crisis. 

Tom Peters noted that "Many managers spend their time fighting fires until late in the game". Leaders must indeed solve the current challenges to guarantee their survival. However, no leader can neglect the future. 

Anticipating and positioning the firm for the future is the real job of leadership. Meeting customer needs today and in the future leads to business sustainability. Selorm Adadevoh, the former CEO of MTN Ghana, attributes the sterling performance in recent years to a dual focus on both short-term and medium-term. 

Focusing on the medium term enables leaders to "build the structures needed for the future so the business can run itself". 

Taking a short-term view drives the pursuit of "quick revenue-generating initiatives that may not be in the interest of the business in the medium-term". 

Adopt a healthy perception of the challenge at hand:

The onslaught of challenges can wear even the most optimistic person out and turn a well-heeled professional into a complaining manager. 

Successful leaders maintain resilience and an accurate perception of challenges. According to Elaine Pappoe, CEO of Coneb Trading Services, leaders who succeed in these challenging times “do not allow others to project their fears and failures onto them”. 

Also, they do not just stay optimistic and hope the challenges go away. 

They have come to accept that there will always be challenges. 

They know that complaining about the challenges is futile. It sucks your energies as the issues are outside your circle of influence and control. 

The CEO of Adansi Travels, Gideon Asare, has decided not to complain about situations he cannot change. 

Instead, he has turned his attention to asking important questions about the same situation in a manner that enables team members to think about the issue differently, shapes the conversations and turns his energies towards solving the prevailing challenges. According to Gideon, "This approach helps to get a better perspective on the issues at hand”.

Put first things first:

Maintaining momentum is critical to keeping the team engaged in a challenging environment. Leaders would like to adopt an action orientation, not allowing for dull moments.


Maintaining an action orientation may result in taking on every project that appears to offer some level of benefit to the organization. 

The Co-founder of Primus-Tech Limited, Nelson Wuaku, adopted the principle of putting first things first to enable the team to manage several projects with limited capacity.

At the beginning of the year, the team had several projects to work on, some large-scale projects and small projects taking the attention of the team of developers available at the time. 

They were finding it difficult to increase the number of developers as quickly as possible. Despite all efforts, very little progress was made, even with long hours put in by developers. Nelson decided to take a step back and prioritize projects. 


His process led to significant gains on some large-scale projects. 

This accelerated progress on the large-scale project has increased the energy around projects. Team members could see the visible progress and are excited to continue with all the other projects in the pipeline.

Focus on leadership fitness, especially in crisis moments:

Surmounting the challenges in the business environment requires that leaders show up with the best versions of themselves daily.

Managers cannot fake it any more. Hence, the best leaders challenge themselves to become better. 


They believe their capacity to lead their teams and businesses is the most critical tool for resolving challenges. 

Developing leadership capacity makes challenges easy to manage. Successful people triumph with a better mindset and skillset. 

They focus on improving their approach to doing business, knowing that they cannot keep doing the same things and expect different results. 

They acknowledge that change begins with them. Dorothy Tsidi, Chief Commercial Officer of Prudential Life Insurance, calls these new ways of being and doing experiments. 

Naming her leadership change programs as "experiments" allows her to explore new ways of improving and addressing the same work challenges with curiosity. 
Resolving the current complexities may mean going back to the basics. And sometimes, focusing on the basics is more important than being clever. 

Unfortunately, in a world where many leaders are in a hurry to get ahead, they forget to focus on the fundamentals. 
While the business situation may be challenging and unfavourable, business leaders can still win by being future-minded, putting first things first, keeping a healthy perspective and doubling down on their development.  

Be of good cheer.
The writer is a Leadership Development Facilitator, Executive Coach and Strategy Consultant, Founder of the CEO Accelerator Program ( and Chief Learning Strategist at TEMPLE Advisory (

The mission of The Leadership Project is to harvest highly effective leadership practices and share them in a manner that other leaders can easily incorporate into their leadership practice.

If you have an idea or leadership practice to share, kindly write to [email protected]. Until you read from us again, keep leading.... from leader to leader, one practice at a time.

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