In your role as business leader and on your own path to excellence, you need to be an outstanding coach. Drawing parallels to professional sports coaches can be illuminating. Your responsibility is to win with the team you have (even though you might be trying to improve that team via the hiring process).
In Good to Great, Jim Collins writes compellingly about Continue reading
Ron Clark (aka "Bust 'Em Up") leans into the hill
One of the most difficult concepts for a downhill ski instructor to imbed in the thinking of a student is to lean into the hill. The steeper the trail, the more counterintuitive is that command. As one is accelerating down the slope, instinct is to lean back in the boots, to put on the brakes. The truth is, if you keep your weight forward, you’ll have greater control than if you lean back.
There are parallels in business. In a tough economy, the tendency is to hesitate, to resist. But leaning into the real world situation, and continuing the forward momentum, really does put you into a greater state of control. Similarly, when you’re facing what appears to be a major threat, lean into it. Maybe your bank is asking a lot more questions about your balance sheet and your ability to cover your debt payments. Maybe a major competitor is rumored to be moving into your area. Or maybe the rumor mill has it that a key employee is looking to move on. In all these cases, you can achieve a greater degree of control by leaning into the challenge rather than avoiding or hesitating to act.
You can’t control the environment in which you operate, but you can control your own decisions and actions. It’s not a matter of taking excessive risk; it’s a matter of maintaining the confidence to make tough decisions in the face of uncertainty. It’s your commitment to keep your enterprise moving forward – and under control – regardless of the steepness of the hill.
CEO Lynn Nathan takes the long view
Does every CEO have a clear vision of where they are trying to take their company? Do you?
Almost every book published on the subject of strategic planning emphasizes the importance of a long range vision, a clear picture of how the business will be different in 5 or 10 years. Self-help entrepreneurial books include the same emphasis. Why, then, do so many business owners struggle with this concept? When asked, “How big do you want this business to become?” why do so many answer, “I don’t know”?
Because it’s the truth. Sometimes you don’t know. You may be so focused on surviving the current year that you can’t allow yourself the luxury of looking ahead to better times. Or, you simply don’t know where you want to take the company ultimately. That doesn’t mean you’re inept. This “vision thing” just is not a priority for you at this time.
The crucial question is whether your business suffers for lack of your vision. Continue reading
It’s that time of year again. A number of my clients are ready to fire their accountant and find a new one. Why is this a recurring event?
I’m not an accountant, but my experience tells me there are two reasons. First, accountants speak a slightly different language than most business owners. They speak Tax Accounting. When it comes to the numbers, most of us speak Managerial Accounting or some other financial dialect.
Second, the business owner often fails to make his or her expectations of the accountant clear. As a result, they do not receive the accountant’s commitment to meet those expectations (or, if they do and it’s received verbally, there is still no real understanding).
Here is a short checklist of questions to review with any firm proposing to be your accountant: Continue reading
A new year is launched and they’re at it again – telling us we need to formulate our New Year’s Resolutions. I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions (except…well… see below). But it occurred to me that this resolution concept might be useful in dealing with the challenge of the first step in the strategic planning process – articulating your vision.
Yesterday I sent to my family members a list of my seven “resolutions” for 2012. These were not goals – i.e., they were not specific and measurable in the manner of good business goals. Rather, they were direction-setting commitments. For example, number 3 was “to be increasingly creative in what I do.” Continue reading
16th U.S. President
Abe Lincoln had a way with words – a better way than most of us do. But that shouldn’t keep us from getting better at using our own words to inspire.
It’s difficult to motivate employees or customers to change. To change their perception, or perhaps to change their behavior. Maybe you want employees to commit to always deliver the highest quality product or service. Or you want them to follow your six-step closing process. Maybe you want your customers to turn to your company for more of their purchases. Or you want them to try a new product or service you’ve introduced. Continue reading
Martin and Lewis, once partners
I recently met with three other business owners to discuss best practices in partnerships. We could have simply read a book on the subject (such as The Partnership Charter by David Gage), but the primary focus of the meeting was on the situation of one of the participants. He was thinking about bringing a partner into the business he founded seven years ago. The other two participants had partnership experience.
We came up with a short list of imperatives for successfully bringing a partner into an ongoing business. Continue reading
I’m a Philadelphia Phillies baseball fan. You don’t have to be interested in the team to compare their story with that of your business. The Phillies finished the 2011 season with a won-loss record of 102-60, the best in major league baseball. They are now in the “off season”, with 3-4 months to recuperate, rehabilitate, and recreate. Team management will use that same time for examining the team’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as external opportunities and threats; developing appropriate strategies for addressing those factors; and taking action on those strategies for next season. Sounds like a business, doesn’t it? It is.
The Phillies are a really good team but they continually look for ways to improve. Do you lead a really good team that’s looking to improve? What are you doing about it in the off season? Continue reading