I’ve been on several member visits this fall already, and have been around some of our very best business leaders as part of my travels. Without exception, I’m seeing more frazzled and worn-out people. Even the very best companies are working harder and struggling to show good profitability. Even the companies with record sales and huge backlogs have some issues. It might be uncollected receivables, cash-flow problems, inadequate resources, scheduling or delays … the list goes on. As I’ve said before, many owners and senior managers feel that their work has become a grind. Nothing seems to come easy.
Here’s my theory: When these same great leaders first walked into their corner offices, they saw a clear future for their company and themselves. Twenty-some years later, these now-veteran leaders are walking into the corner office with less confidence than they had the first day on the job. This is unacceptable.
It’s very easy to lose confidence in this new world of systems integration. For one, things are changing so rapidly. As soon as you’ve learned and mastered one technology, something new comes along. Before your key investment has paid off, you’ve been asked to reinvest more money into yet another must-have business opportunity. Secondly, profitability is tough, especially with margin erosion and new competitors entering from other sectors. Then add banking and bonding issues, increasing benefit expenses, and dozens of other business concerns to this growing list.
Nevertheless, leaders have to take charge. More than anyone else in the company, leaders have to set a direction and be able to communicate it to others. A frazzled, exhausted, and worn-down leader is doing more harm than good. But NSCA has a cure for that. The best medicine is our Business & Leadership Conference (BLC). Our 2014 event will give you the tools and resources to make creative, effective decisions that will engage your employees, help retain talent, accelerate business performance, and set your company apart from the competition.
Networking and benchmarking evaluations are also a very good way to get business clarity. I’d be happy to spend time going over any of the financial ratios to take the guesswork out of those numbers.
We have to walk confidently into that corner office, being prepared and willing to lead. Many leaders who lack confidence do so only because they have too much pride to ask employees what they would do if it were their decision. Those same leaders still think of themselves as the talent – not the talent scout. The best leaders got over that long ago.
The next time you walk into your corner office, I ask that you do so with excitement and enthusiasm … just like you did the first day on the job. If you are the CEO, you have a responsibility to lead with confidence. If you are on the management team, you need to support and provide information and knowledge to the CEO or owners so they can place their bets properly. We have the resources to help, but you have to take the initiative yourself. CW