Business leaders need to “innovate, innovate, innovate” to get through the financial downturn, a Birmingham business professor will say this week in the first of a series of credit crunch-busting seminars.
Professor Mike West, of Aston Business School, has put together the seminars in association with Aston Science Park and the Birmingham Post to provide practical advice for businesses left struggling by the recent financial crisis.
The first of the lectures, being held at the Business School this Thursday, will see Professor West himself – a renowned business psychologist – talk about what it takes to be a leader during a recession.
And he said innovation, optimism and confidence were the key qualities for the successful businessmen of the future.
Speaking to the Birmingham Post, Prof West said: “The biggest problem facing business leaders at a time of recession is lack of confidence and anxiety about the future. It’s a problem not just for them as individuals but for everybody they manage, and that’s really the problem that has to be addressed.
“The way to do that is they need to be optimistic and enthusiastic. We need our leaders in times of crisis to be confident. That means that they need to identify for the individuals in their organisations what the need and scale of those problems is, and then they need to map a way forward.
“My top tip for a leader at this time during the economic recession is this is the time to innovate, to develop new and improved ways of doing things, new and improved products. It’s organisations that innovate during a recession that go on to prosper and grow.
He said business leaders should follow the example of Virgin boss Richard Branson in taking an innovative attitude to tough times, adding: “I think he has shown the value of continuing to innovate during times of crisis. He has always adopted that optimistic and enthusiastic approach to difficulty and sold a vision to the people he leads and given them the confidence they need to get through difficult times.”
Professor West is the executive dean of the Business School as well as a business psychologist. He has written, edited or co-edited more than 20 books, as well as publishing more than 150 articles for scientific and practitioner publications, as well as chapters in scholarly books.
His main areas of expertise are team and organisational innovation and effectiveness,. He has lectured widely both nationally and internationally about the results of his research and his ideas for developing effective and innovative organisations.
Prof West said the lectures would be most useful for owners and managers of small and medium-sized businesses. He said speaking as a business psychologist, confidence and optimism was the key to success at work The first of the “Challenging Times” seminars, hosted by Prof West, is titled “Leadership and Challenge”.
It is being held this Thursday at Aston Business School at 1-2pm. Places are limited, so to register a spot go to www.abs.aston.ac.uk/events. The three later seminars will follow at bi-monthly intervals throughout the year.