Try to focus on the opportunity, rather than the challenge
Miring in doom and gloom can set you up for failure at critical moments
During a recent business conversation, a senior automotive executive was complaining about the difficulty of finding suitable recruits to support their company’s expansion.
I suggested a different way of looking at the issue. What great news that the company is growing; now let’s find the right people.
My point is that if you start with the negative, focusing on the challenge rather than the opportunity, you run the risk of setting yourself up for failure. A negative mindset can become a self-fulfilling prophecy that can damage morale within a company and, because it spreads quickly, can infect the wider market. Before you know it, the whole sector is mired in gloom.
I have observed some of this collective doom-mongering in the automotive industry, and it does nobody any favours. Yes, there are very real challenges facing automotive companies, with tough markets requiring tough decisions, but that’s no different to what people in business have faced for centuries. If you continually find fault with things and wallow in negativity, you lose sight of the solution.
A case in point is the shift from the franchise to the agency model for retailers, begun by Mercedes-Benz last month and to be followed by Volvo from May. With the threat of reduced profit margins for dealers, they can either view it as the end of the world or they can accept that retailing is entering a new era and set about motivating their staff and looking for the best ways to make it work for them.
Being successful in business is often no more complicated than having the right product in the right market, with customers who want to consume it.
Looking at those businesses that are making real progress, I would pick out Lotus, which has some fantastic cars in the pipeline, and Stellantis, where Alison Jones is doing some excellent work around sustainability. Some of the Chinese EV brands have incredibly clever products coming out, too; just look at MG, which has tripled its market share in the UK since 2020.
We’re also starting to see a rebalancing of some of the new start-ups, with some great success stories, such as Onto, which is expanding rapidly in the EV subscription market.
So for all the wailing and gnashing of teeth going on in automotive boardrooms, there are companies out there that are enjoying significant growth.
As someone who runs an automotive executive search company, I can also vouch for the fact that there are some super-talented individuals making their mark on the industry.
With that in mind, it’s time to put the January blues well and truly behind us. The transformation taking place in the sector brings a world of opportunities, so let’s go and grab them.
Lynda Ennis, founder of global automotive and mobility executive search company Ennis & Co