Why You’ll Need More than Business Sense to Thrive in 2023


The pundits have been telling us for months to expect a recession in 2023. Should corporate leaders rely on something more than their business sense to thrive in the coming year? The answer to that question partly depends on whether you see yourself as more of a manager or a leader.

Business Sense or Common Sense

Modern companies need employees to watch over their team members and offer help when necessary. These employees might also help their team members develop key skills to move to the next level on the corporate ladder. And they typically concern themselves with tracking paid time off and task completion. These actions and attitudes define the meaning of being a manager.

Employee feelings about their managers range from like to dislike, often depending on the fit between them. In the case of a poor fit, the responsibility to make the relationship work falls to the manager. One way to maintain a positive relationship is to remain positive and upbeat. A manager with a negative attitude who first finds fault with what an employee does shouldn’t count on loyalty. But a manager with the right mindset will hear the following kind of praise from employees: "They motivated me and believed in me when I didn’t think I could keep going."

Manager or Leader

Can a manager also be a leader? Yes. And success is correlated to specific behaviors. “To become a good leader, you should influence, inspire and mentor your team members,” states Skye Schooley.

Mentoring, for example, means “guiding employees through their shortcomings and building their confidence in new areas.” Leaders can personalize their approach by relying on the team member’s individual needs revealed in their psychometric assessments. Much of this advice relates to common sense. 

During economic slowdowns, leaders should also develop good business sense. You may need employees to branch out into broader roles, for example, to minimize the cost of bringing in new hires. The additional cross-​training helps employees see the organization through a new lens and appeals to their desire for professional development.

How to Inspire

Inspiring team members when budgets are tight and revenue is down can be challenging. They need to see your commitment to carrying out the mission. One way to share your vision is to hold team meetings. These events allow everyone to pick up on your energy. If you’re entering a period of economic uncertainty, you can empower team members by asking for their ideas and input.

Likewise, you can inspire team members by physically communicating your commitment. At the start of the pandemic, we didn’t know what we were facing. At many companies, employees worked harder than usual, realizing their jobs were at risk. But inspiration also came from leaders who rolled up their sleeves and worked alongside team members to conquer the challenges that came from the overnight change in work processes.

How to Communicate

Your business sense might be telling you to pull back on expenses in 2023. If you’ve been considering a capital investment, you might delay signing the purchase order for a few months. Or you may decide, as many tech companies have recently done, to freeze hiring. Some business leaders think that their employees don’t need or deserve an explanation about these types of decisions.

Back in the day, employees generally accepted what a boss said, but today’s employees expect more. They watch what leadership does. And if they don’t like what they see, they’ll start looking around for a better position.

You can’t afford to lose top talent during a time of economic contraction or crisis. One way to improve loyalty is to communicate. Kim Littlefield, senior vice president of Keystone Partners, says, “Employees need to know, and they should hear it from the most senior leader.” Given the nature of the typical rumor mill, some of your employees will know some of the truth. It’s your job to clear up misunderstandings. And more importantly, you need to communicate the path that the company will be taking. Your team members may be worried and will analyze any inconsistencies between what you say and do as they evaluate their options.

Leadership and Business Sense

As we approach a new year, stay positive and lay out a long-​term plan that makes good business sense and common sense. Whether you are a leader or a manager, this approach will encourage your employees to work hard and remain loyal.

Photo by Christina Morillo, Pexels.

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C. Lee Smith

C. Lee Smith

CEO and Founder at SalesFuel
C. Lee Smith is the CEO and Founder of SalesFuel - a firm he founded in 1989. He was named one of the 14 Leading Sales Consultants by Selling Power magazine. Lee is the creator of the AdMall® and the TeamTrait™ SaaS platforms. He is also a Gitomer Certified Advisor, C‑Suite Network Advisor and Certified Behavioral Analyst.
C. Lee Smith


CEO of @SalesFuel | Bestselling Author of "SalesCred" | Keynote Speaker | Certified Behavioral Analyst | Global Sales Credibility Authority
@GrahamRahal What has your team done to qualify better in 2023? — 13 hours ago
C. Lee Smith