Great book by Jim Collins worth reading by every business leader – How The Mighty Fall I just wish he published more often… Five Stages of Decline: Hubris Born of Success Undisciplined Pursuit of More Denial of Risk and Peril Grasping for Salvation Capitulation to Irreverence or Death “The concept of hubris is defined as […]
Sometimes a leader sticks around too long. I am a big fan of Arsenal Football Club and this has become a much more difficult chore than it used to be. The club that used to be known for its innovative offensive play-making and rock solid defense has become sadly predictable to defend and quite easy […]
In business (and life), patience may be a virtue but passion becomes a prerequisite. Being a small business owner is hard work especially for founders and growth oriented leaders. You truly must believe in what you are doing to overcome the many obstacles that inevitably appear on your path along the way. Most people wouldn’t […]
Mistakes are a part of life. As the saying goes, “sometimes we are our own worst enemy.” I’ve seen many a good leader go down a “rat trap” of their own making. Often this is done with the best of intentions, but the results usually have nothing to with the original intention behind them. The […]
Leadership is not for the faint of heart. It certainly has its ups and downs and can test anyone’s emotional fortitude. However, this is the very reason so few people can do it well. If you take every small slight and failure personally, the job will eat you alive. Whenever you assume a position of responsibility, you automatically also assume a roster of critics and malcontents who aren’t always aligned with your leadership vision. Since you can’t realistically fire everyone who disagrees with you (nor is this advisable), then you need to figure out other ways to handle the pressures and scrutiny.
“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they […]
One of the most frustrating and disheartening things that someone in my position has to deal with are leaders who have a tendency to ignore reality and follow a flawed strategy or other key decision off a cliff. Pride almost always gets in the way as he/she thinks that changing course would represent failure or unnecessary pain. Usually there is a difficult decision that has to be made about people, finances or the current business model (sometimes all three). The inability to make these types of decisions tends to lead to one outcome – failure. A reasonably competent leader may delay the timing but the end result is inevitable.
One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn in my line of work is that you can’t save everyone. Despite your good intentions and best efforts, sometimes the formula will not work. In some cases, you might have to accept the fact that you are not the right fit for a given engagement or client relationship. In other instances, there is always a reason why someone is struggling and until they fully come to grips with this fact and take ownership of their behavior, there is only so much you can do.
One of my least favorite sayings I hear from business owners is that “we throw people into the deep end of the pool and see if they can swim.” What a bunch of nonsense! As a leader it is incumbent upon you to make sure your people have the job clarity, tools, resources and training to be successful. You are supposed to set people up for success not push them towards failure. Darwinian logic misapplied to the work environment is professional malpractice.
2009-2011 has been a difficult period for many people I know and care about. It’s almost as if the heavens opened up and terrible storm decided to descend on a vast number of unsuspecting people. In many cases, the signs may have been there, but none of us expected the difficulty it to be so prolonged and discouraging. They say “what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger.” I’m not sure I agree with this point of view. Not every challenge leads to strength; sometimes it just forces us to alter our perspective. Change doesn’t always mean growth or better, it often just means different. In addition, certain wounds don’t always heal as we would like them to, but they heal nonetheless – time will see to this.
Giving up on an idea isn’t failure. It can be basic common sense. Both time and resources are finite. If you spend them on something that has little chance of working out, then for all intensive purposes you are wasting your efforts. This doesn’t mean you give up on the idea of taking risks or pursuing long shots, but it does mean you do so carefully with your eyes wide open and a willingness to pull the plug if and when needed.
Believe it or not I often feel sorry for people who achieve success too easily. If you don’t have to work for something, you tend not to appreciate it as fully as someone else who has struggled to get where they are. It’s a fact of life that we often take those things for granted that come with minimal effort. Luck may have a place in life but it shouldn’t be a personal or professional strategy. Individual character is usually best forged in the fires of adversity and defined by a person’s ability to navigate whatever obstacles are strewn in their path of achieving those things that are meaningful to them.
I am worried that many of our leaders have become way too tactical and reactive these days. Instead of seeing the big picture they are getting mired in the details and forging ahead with actions that will have less than optimal impact on the problems/challenges they are trying to address. Actions should never drive strategy. Strategy should drive action. There are also rarely simple solutions to complicated issues. Sometimes you need to step back and actually think through what you are doing before you do it (especially in times of crisis).
The history of business is littered with the failures of innately gifted and talented leaders who never realized their full potential because they were slow to change, didn’t work hard enough at getting smarter, couldn’t think their way out of adversity or thought they had all the answers.
All successful people that I know learn from their mistakes. In fact, it is often a big mistake or two that ends up being a pivotal point in their career. If you aren’t making mistakes then you aren’t taking enough risks or pushing yourself hard enough to get a true understanding of your potential.
I recommend that in business or life before taking on anything important, step back and consult with the affected parties. Solicit their feedback not just on whether or not it’s a good idea or what steps are necessary for execution, but also what could make it fail.