A Call for Active Patience
The Q4 2010 Vistage CEO Confidence Index soared to 106.3, from 95.1 in Q3, marking the most dramatic spike in optimism about our economy since Q1 2005. Other surveys have supported the Vistage data, which is not only an attitudinal snapshot of small business CEOs, but also has proven to be a prognostication for our economic future. Its predictive value corresponding to GDP and Employment Expectations is well documented.
A few days after we announced the results of our survey, the Labor Department released its Jobs numbers. Unemployment dropped .4 percent and non-farm payroll employment increased by 103,000, with the biggest gains coming from the leisure/hospitality and health care sectors. Also, a report from the National Retail Federation revealed that holiday retail sales jumped to their highest in six years.
Not a bad way to start the new year. But despite good news and positive trends, there’s nothing in the numbers that tells us the economy is going to bounce back overnight. While 54% of Vistage member CEOs surveyed plan to hire in 2011 based on expected increases in sales and profits, 27% say they’ll spread out their hiring over the course of the year, and only 15% said they intended to hire during the first quarter. Credit remains tight and uncertainties still abound.
This is not a time for euphoria; instead it’s a time for patience. By that I don’t mean passive patience, the kind that waits to see what happens before acting, but active patience, where we identify where we have the highest convergence of both control and impact and then act on it. That’s what our Vistage members have done over the past two years. Their example is worth following. They kept their heads up, acted on those matters that made the biggest difference for their survival and growth, and led us through the most difficult economic downturn in generations.
So whether you’re one of the 1.3 million discouraged workers (which the Labor Department describes as people looking for a job, but who believe there is no job for them), a small business owner, consumer, etc., we need you now more than ever. We need your skills, your investment and your engagement. And we all need to adjust to the new realities by re-training our abilities, finding new opportunities, and taking fresh risks. If we can be patient – actively patient – for just a bit longer, we will enjoy the fuller economic recovery together.