If you ever thought you’d like to become a better company leader, this recession is one heck of a teaching tool. In between hustling for business, monitoring cash flow, keeping track of production, and networking your heart out, you can’t forget that your team needs you. It’s up to you to help them stay upbeat and focused on the activities that will have the most impact on your company. Here are five tips on how to do it.

1. Focus on your long-term vision. Now, more than ever, it’s time to talk to your employees about where you want to go and what you want to accomplish, so that they know the future exists for the company. Let them know you’re still focused on your vision and want them to be as well.

2. Stay upbeat and positive. There’s no faster way to lose talented employees than to be the voice of doom and gloom. If you’re not seeing the opportunities, staff won’t either, but staying upbeat when things are tough may take some work.

First, remember that being the Bluebird of Happiness is part of your job. Put on your game face before you leave home and keep it on. Be sure to exercise, get out of the office, and recharge. If things are tough and you’re finding it difficult to get through the day, talk to your doctor.

3. Focus on the successes. Talk about anything and everything positive that happens. Share stories about positive sales calls. Discuss company improvements or the response to a marketing campaign. Keep your eyes open; there are plenty of things to celebrate. In our company, we start our Monday morning meeting with “Success Stories.” Each team member shares positive things that happened the previous week. It is a great way to begin the week on an upbeat note.

4. Communicate, communicate, communicate. At McDowell Inc., in St. Charles, Ill., Sue McDowell keeps team morale up with a renewed commitment to communication. “With smaller jobs, there are new frustrations, so we have had a few meetings just to bring up the challenges and to let people vent,” she says. “Then we work on improving systems to help us eliminate the frustration. If we didn’t, the frustration would move onto the clients, and we definitely don’t want that.”

5. Look to your team. Remember that you have talented people around. Talk about the business and brainstorm. You can turn up fantastic ideas. Putting them into place will get everyone excited as the benefits appear.

The energy you put into becoming a great leader will pay off as the economy improves and you’re on to bigger and better things.

—Victoria Downing is president of Remodelers Advantage, a national company that gives remodelers the tools to achieve consistent profitability and success through one-on-one consulting, the Roundtables peer program, and an online learning community, Advantage Associates, 301.490.5620. [email protected]; www.remodelersadvantage.com.