The world economy is truly winded at the moment. Already in a weakened state, it took a brutal blow in the midriff on September 11 that has left it reeling, and it looks headed for the canvas. One thing we can be sure of, though, is that it will make it to its feet before the end of the count. We've been here before in the downturns of the early '60s, mid-'70s and late '80s, which were followed by recovery. The lamps went out all over Europe in 1914 but they did eventually come on again, albeit in varying degrees of brightness. We believe in lights at the ends of tunnels.
These grim events and subsequent hard times make the role of those who lead businesses even more crucial. Being in the hot seat at the top of an organisation is never easy in the best of times, but when things cut up rough the CEO really needs to find something extra from the bottom drawer. Our cover feature looks at the traits required to be an effective CEO and is accompanied by a quiz for those who aspire to the heights. Check whether you've got what it takes - and think about whether you want it.
It is, in many senses, far harder to lead in adversity than when things are booming. Staff are fearful for their jobs and their welfare outside work. Many feel deep unease just setting foot on an airliner now. Clear and truthful communication becomes even more vital, as does the lifting of spirits and a sustained emphasis on seizing the few new opportunities available, the recession notwithstanding. When heads are down it is difficult to see the lights ahead.