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CEO Perspective: Taking Action in Uncertain Times

Shift into offensive driving

Jonathan Copulsky, Principal, Strategy & Operations, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Over the past year, most chief executive officers (CEO) have spent a lot of time worrying about their balance sheets, asking questions that they normally leave to others. Do we have the liquidity we need to operate? Is it time to shed underutilized assets? How do we stay credit worthy? That’s Defensive Driving 101.

The balance sheet will be facing serious scrutiny for the foreseeable future — and with good reason. But it's time for CEOs to hand the reins back to others in the C-suite, and return to focusing on growth.

The CEO has to set the tone for the rest of the organization. The organization is looking for leadership — they need to understand where you are taking them. They are looking to you for actions that will strengthen the business, like mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and intelligent investments. You need to exercise realistic optimism, but it is time to look forward and shift from defense to offense.

These days, growth is likely to arrive in spurts rather than steadily and continuously. In light of that, CEOs need to determine when to accelerate and when to ease up. This is no time for the herky-jerky movements of a first-time driver working a manual transmission.

So take the foot off the brakes. It’s up to the CEO to figure out where to take the organization and to set the right pace to get there.

Learn more about taking action in uncertain times in “Here Today. Where Tomorrow?”

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