What does it take to beat a global financial crisis? Some individuals blame the banks, the lack of credit available, or even a run of bad luck, and sure, all of those did contribute in some way to the crisis of the last few years. As a business consultant, I have had the pleasure of coaching some of the world’s top senior executives. In listening to their stories, some involving the aforementioned contributors, I believe people can add to and drive through any crisis.

So, is there an answer? Yes: most employers have allowed complacency and inefficiency to settle into their organization. This impacts staff morale and how people behave and respond. If you all drink the same poisoned drink, everyone gets sick, right?

Staff members who are not engaged in your business cripple productivity, damaging reputation, brand, and bottom-line income and revenue. When business revenues fail, businesses look to other means to improve the cost-income ratio jaws (i.e., reducing staff, cutting back, borrowing more). The consequence is that, over time, the failing business has a domino effect on your local, national, and global economic position.

Knowing this as a leader, how can you attempt to stop the cycle? One answer may lie within a model that I designed by accident while working as a senior executive in a blue chip organization. It became a predictable mantra from my leadership team, becoming entrenched in how we led our teams.

Standards, Expectations, & Consequences

Standards. Be really crystal clear about your team’s standards, including their behaviors, results, people development, training, and customer support. This building block is essential to ensure that people really do understand what you expect. Then, be restless every day to ensure that, with your support, your teammates are working as closely as they can to these standards.

Expectations. First, the “what’s,” and now, the “how’s.” How will you and your team behave with all the customers and stakeholders you interact with? How will you and your team deliver the results? How will you support your top-performing team members and their customers? And how will you develop your less productive relationships? It’s not about telling either; this is about showing your people how and what you expect.

Consequences. I call this, “What if you do, and what if you don’t?” It’s imperative that you share with your people what the journey will be like for them if they meet your standards and expectations and the benefits of delivering a shared vision. Conversely, we don’t spend enough time being honest with people from the outset about not meeting standards and expectations. This doesn’t need to be “tough love,” but good old honest support in whatever form you feel fit.

With a restless curiosity regarding your team’s adherence to its standards, expectations, and consequences, combined with a zero-tolerance policy for mediocrity, you will shine above your competitors. You will foster great morale, and your staff will energize each other while growing productivity. You will develop a strong personal leadership brand and reputation and grow stellar revenue and shareholder returns along the way.

And as for the global crisis and reliance on macroeconomic conditions? You can’t foresee the challenges that economic factors beyond your control will bring, but you can minimize their impact on your business.