Whether it’s a husband and wife, two brothers, or a direct supervisor and direct report, I can’t begin to count the number of clients I have coached over the years who have pointed their fingers at someone else and blamed them for doing something wrong. While there clearly are appropriate times to hold others accountable for their actions, that’s not what I’m referring to here. I’m referring to senior executives and family business leaders who regularly assume the worst about their team members and colleagues, attributing blame as if the offender has malicious intent and truly wants to bring harm to their organization.
l don’t usually experience people in organizations who are evil or bad. I do encounter folks who have differing opinions about what’s “right” or perhaps use different rationale and logic, thus reaching different conclusions about what actions need to be taken. I also find that people aren’t always aligned and simply respond based on their different priorities.
When we assume the worst in others just because we disagree with them or perhaps because they did something we wouldn’t have done, we destroy our chances for collaboration, and we make it nearly impossible to produce better results together. Instead, we create a predictable future with people pitted against each other, taking sides over what’s right and what’s wrong. This generally comes from very short-term thinking and/or from a single-minded view of the situation.
Have you ever noticed how we tend to hire fast and fire slow in organizations? That’s because leaders shy away from managing the performance of their under-performers. They avoid engaging in the process, instead choosing to shove their heads in the sand waiting for the wind to blow past them and everything to get better on its own. Have you ever had an under-performer who actually got back on track simply by figuring it out on their own?
Ostrich management, as it’s often called, simply doesn’t work. Underachievers aren’t likely to get better on their own. If they haven’t figured it out yet, what makes you think they will now? Under-performers don’t turn things around and become star performers without focused and intentional training and management intervention.
I have a CEO client whose direct report has not been meeting expectations for quite some time. Business has fallen short of the stated targets, and until very recently this team member – who is himself a C-level executive – didn’t even realize the company was consistently delivering unprofitable work under his leadership!
When I was 16 years old, I didn’t learn to drive stick shift from my father. Although I knew my father could drive a manual transmission, it was one of my friends whom I asked to teach me, whom I knew wouldn’t get upset with me for grinding the gears at first or increase the pressure with what is already a stressful experience and can be a difficult skill to learn. When I consider the many family businesses I have supported as an executive coach and family advisor over the years, it’s no different!
Successful Baby Boomer business owners don’t achieve their success simply by teaching others what to do. They achieve that success by being driven, results-oriented leaders striving to accomplish more than those before them. This strong character trait, however, often presents itself through a more dominant and autocratic leadership style – one that may work for the chief executive of a family business or the principal of a family office, but likely doesn’t work as well when you want to groom your next generation child to assume huge responsibilities as your successor. This is very likely why I’m regularly hired by NextGen children to facilitate their transitions rather than the Baby Boomers themselves.
One of the other key challenges with the father/son relationship is the long history these individuals have together. While I may have learned to drive stick shift from my friend, that doesn’t mean I was a responsible teenage driver. I earned at least a couple speeding tickets in my first year of driving, and even got into a couple minor fender benders. Now imagine if my father ran a multi-generation family business and allowed me to work for him. How do you think he would feel about his somewhat irresponsible and overly adventurous son taking the reins? My guess is he wouldn’t have given me the keys to the kingdom before I could demonstrate I had matured – and rightfully so!
You’ve spent the last 30, 40 or maybe 50 years trying to be the best you can be. Maybe the best in your space. So how do you give that all up, take a second seat to your successor, and embrace that thing called “retirement”? For many, this transition in leadership can be an incredibly emotional process and perhaps the hardest thing they’ve ever done professionally. When done well though, it could also be the most important and impactful!
As long as you’ve worked in your organization, your colleagues have likely looked up to you for your wisdom and sage advice. They’ve also likely expected you to accept even greater responsibility to lead your business functions or perhaps grow the company through successful business development and customer relationships. There comes a time in everyone’s career though when it’s more appropriate to look to the next generation to step up rather than dig in and push harder to achieve even more.
If you’re starting to consider how much longer you want to work and what you might do next if you retire, you’ve clearly earned the right to step back and prioritize your life differently moving forward. Lord knows you’re not alone as many Baby Boomers are choosing not to work as much after what we’ve all been through this past year. It’s not about making more money or achieving new professional accolades anymore. It’s about prioritizing what matters most in life while also securing your legacy and ensuring the organization continues long after you’re gone.
Have you lost a loved one or close colleague recently? Did one of your best customers unexpectedly end your long-standing business relationship? Did the bank just reject your loan application? Whether these or others, all of us experience what I’ve affectionately come to call “challenging moments” throughout our lives. They sting and stop us in our tracks. They may even feel debilitating for a while.
In the last 3 years, I was forced to leave my home for a full year due to the devastating effect of a wildfire, the COVID-19 pandemic turned our lives upside down, and I was in a horrible traffic accident leaving me in constant pain due to a bad whiplash injury. Any of these experiences in isolation are probably manageable. Together, well let’s just say it’s a lot!
Lots of people are still struggling right now – whether for personal or professional reasons, or both. The question, then, is what do you do when you experience setbacks like this? Do you turn to a tub of ice cream or your favorite whiskey? Or do you cherish the many blessings you do have in life and keep keeping on?
Founders and entrepreneurs can be very successful starting their businesses, but scaling them often requires the support of other professionals. Why would a company need support with their C-Suite? Are business owners and CEOs not capable of making decisions and leading the business on their own? What does engaging a professional CEO, COO, CFO, or other C-Suite executive (CXO) really do? While many business owners and CEOs can make the tactical decisions about the business today, they often need to engage outside professionals to drive future growth and take their companies to the next level.
Professional CXOs bring a wealth of knowledge, experience, training, and education that current company leaders may not have. The job of these executives is to strategically partner with the founder, owner, or other business leader to accelerate the growth of the business and increase enterprise value.
CXOs may get involved in all aspects of the business as they analyze a company’s core processes, identify any weaknesses or potential areas of improvement, define key performance indicators, create detailed forecasts, manage cash flow and possible funding needs, and so on. CXOs can also monitor employee performance and morale as they consider different organization designs and overall business models for a company to maximize its longer-term growth potential. Most importantly, good CXOs work with business owners to develop strategic plans that drive operational and financial strength and accelerate a company’s growth. The CXO’s role is as both guardian and champion of business value.
Let’s look at two common – and critical – executive positions you may need to consider: Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer.
Chief Financial Officer The Chief Financial Officer is much more than an accountant, bookkeeper, or controller. CFOs are strategic partners for their owners/CEOs. CFOs sit at the highest level of the financial management pyramid and oversee all the company’s financial functions. They regularly get involved in other aspects of the business too.
Good CFOs are strategically focused on the big picture and the future, with the short and long-term goals of the company in mind. They analyze the company’s processes, define and monitor critical KPIs, identify weaknesses and potential areas of improvement, create detailed forecasts, manage cash flow, and manage any funding needs. Good CFOs also assess the company’s business model to maximize growth potential. CFOs work with their business owners and CEOs to develop overall financial strategies for their companies. They develop comprehensive strategic plans to accelerate and effectively manage growth based on the company’s goals as well.
Oprah’s interview with Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle clearly demonstrates what happens when a family narrative starts to break. A prominent next-generation family member marries outside the “establishment”. Soon, the values underpinning the whole family are questioned. Relationships fracture between siblings and with parents. The Royal Family’s central story – which has lasted for centuries – suddenly seems very shaky.
Most families don’t have anything like that level of scrutiny or history, but a shared narrative is still the thing that holds them together. A strong story increases the chances of future success. A weak or vague story heightens the risks to wealth and unity.
Families can derive great meaning from their stories. They can forge trust with one another – and across generations – by exploring their shared history. They can find purpose in the present by building on their collective experiences in the past while also clarifying their vision for their future. When they don’t, factions can develop and create great chasms within and across generations.
This situation exists because families tend to get bigger and more complex over time. New members arrive by marriage and birth, and differing opinions and even competing values and priorities can develop. Successful families tend to amass greater wealth and assets over time too. Thus, stewardship of the family’s estate gets more complicated and new structures like family offices and family foundations are created to preserve and manage the family’s assets.
The Family Charter (or “Family Constitution”) is often used as a written guide to help family members navigate this complexity. The Charter acts as a statement of the family’s heritage, culture, hopes, and aspirations for the future. The Charter usually details the following principles for governing the family:
When the pandemic first hit, like many others, I tried to convince myself if I simply hunkered down, it would all pass in a couple months. Yet as time went on, I realized – as you likely did too! – that at some point we had transitioned from a sprint to a marathon, and the uncertain times were sticking around. While there are some positive signs we are slowly emerging from the pandemic, the ripple effect it has wreaked on businesses, communities, and citizens around the world will be felt for months and years to come. And that’s just one of the crises we weathered!
As we redefine “normal” and begin operating in a deeply changed world, leaders at all levels are now presented with a two-pronged challenge – 1. How do we help our teams remain engaged and successful, and 2. How do we simultaneously stay grounded enough to meet our own individual needs?
While undeniably challenging, the current situation also provides opportunities for us to engage our workforce on a more meaningful – even vulnerable – level. It may feel uncomfortable and can be difficult at first, but it’s important to create an environment where our team members can bring their whole selves to work. As Jeremy wrote in his post “What Your Employees Really Want Right Now” last July, it’s not only about providing a safe and supportive work environment for our team members but also making sure they know we care about them and will do everything we can to support them as they continue to do everything they can to support us and the customers we serve.
As leaders, we can create this environment – even virtually! – by authentically living our values. That requires us to know what our values are, though, doesn’t it? The best leaders are values literate. They understand how their values shape their behaviors and how they are distinct from their personalities and skills. In From Values to Action, author Harry Hansen-Kraemer Jr. shares a model to help us lead authentically and connect deeply with our teams and colleagues. Hansen-Kraemer outlines the following four principles of values-based leadership for us:
Did you know only about 20% of all privately held companies offered for sale each year actually sell? And only around 30% of all family businesses in the U.S. successfully transition from their first to second generation. Maybe worse, 75% of all business owners who do sell their companies “profoundly regret” the decision one year after selling.
Throughout my career, I have worked around the world with organizations big and small – ranging from multi-billion-dollar Fortune 500s to government agencies to privately held family businesses and startups. Of all my experiences, I cherish the most those projects that have had the greatest impact on the people I worked with. So, when I learned these statistics on privately held businesses completing a sale, I knew I wanted to help business owners maximize the value of their businesses and ultimately exit on their terms. This is especially true for the countless Baby Boomers who will transition out of their businesses over the next 10 years – a movement that represents roughly 4.5 million businesses and $10 trillion of wealth being transferred!
Many business exits fail because of a lack of knowledge and planning. Two-thirds of business owners are not familiar with their options for exiting. Almost 80% have no written transition plan or advisory team in place to help them. Nearly half of all business owners have not done any planning, and 93% have no formal “life after” plan. Compound that with the fact that 50% of all business exits are involuntary, forced by dramatic external factors such as death, disability, divorce, disagreement, and distress.
Owners need to plan for how they will walk away from their businesses, not only in a perfect scenario but also in a worst-case situation. A properly planned and executed exit can handsomely reward the business owner for the time, effort, headaches, and heartaches that come from building a business. It also benefits the many employees who work in the business and all the customers they serve. The following, then, is a proven three-phase approach for unlocking the wealth trapped inside your business.
Discovery – When discussing future plans with owners, I like to ask one particular question. “When it comes time for you to step away from the business, what do you want your legacy to be?” This gives us direction, especially for owners nearer to their exits. It becomes the driving factor behind the actions they will take in the months/years ahead and serves as the “lighthouse” to accomplish their true goals.Other critical areas to explore include the owner’s readiness to exit. “What are you going to do when you exit the business?” and “Do you have enough money to do what you want to do?” are two more great questions to consider in this process. With the support of their financial planners, owners often realize they do not have enough savings to reach their goals with so much of their wealth tied up in their businesses. For this reason, we clearly need to consider the value of the business and identify specific areas that can be improved to increase business value and enhance the business’ readiness for the exit.
It may be a new year, but we’re still facing many of the same challenges. Much of our workforce is still at home balancing caring for young children and virtual learning. Those who are working in person are wrestling with the reality of keeping physically distanced from their co-workers while worrying about staying healthy.
Exacerbating these COVID conditions, many businesses now exist within a volatile and uncertain world. Will demand for our products and services continue to exist? How will pricing change? How long will supply chain issues continue to impact us? What services will be in demand? On the people side, how do we keep employees engaged to meet these changing demands? How do we help employees evolve and succeed?
With questions like these keeping us up at night, how do we lead in these challenging times? The following six leadership actions can provide direction and focus for forward progress.
Be present with your emotions – If we want our teams to deliver exceptional performance, then we need to begin by managing our own emotional reactions to this uncharted territory. This doesn’t mean pretending nothing has changed or glossing over the challenges. We need to acknowledge our fears and anxieties about the uncertainty around us, and in doing so acknowledge everyone else’s concerns too.
Well, this past year was quite the trial, and the new year is already off to a wild start. With all the volatility, uncertainty, and ambiguity in our complex world, it may seem absurd even to try to make 2021 our best year ever. One thing is certain though. We cannot sit on the sidelines waiting for things to get better. There is no magic pill or government intervention that will cure things. We don’t know when life will get back to “normal,” and there’s no guarantee what we thought was normal before will ever even return.
When the world around us changes at an ever-accelerating pace and it seems more and more obstacles are being thrown our way, we must determine how to manage effectively. We must make critical decisions in an environment where it is hard to predict what the future holds. We are continually challenged to make decisions that can have significant and long-term impact on our business, our employees, and our own careers and lives.
As leaders, our job is to forge ahead with plans and actions to drive business results. A key challenge of leading in this VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) world is to integrate greater flexibility into our business. Long-term planning is still important as we need that guiding light, that true north, to help us focus on our intended destination. We need a healthy balance of near-term planning too to drive agility.
Did you make a New Year’s Resolution this year? Or maybe you strategically set goals for your company to achieve. Surprisingly, most people and most organizations do not actually set their strategic intentions at the beginning of the year. When they do, they often are simple statements like “I’m going to get in shape” or “We want to grow our business.”
These are great ideas, but they aren’t very well-articulated goals. If you don’t know where you’re going, how are you going to get there? Other than tremendous luck or good fortune, you aren’t likely to achieve your true potential without setting very clear and specific goals. That’s why we always say that identifying your “lighthouse” is absolutely essential to achieving your personal and professional objectives.
Being committed to one’s own success can deliver powerful results. That’s because our intentions serve as guardrails to keep us focused on our ideal outcomes. Intentions also drive our near-term actions and keep us moving – one foot in front of the other, one day at a time – even during these challenging and uncertain times. Without well-defined lighthouse goals and a crystal-clear Vision for what matters most to us, we can easily be distracted by new opportunities that take us off course. We can also run out of energy without the clarity to keep pushing on.
I’ve had the honor and distinct privilege of counseling and advising numerous successful families over the years. It’s safe to say all of them wanted to be high-performance families and create lasting legacies from one generation to the next.
Not all families are able to achieve this intention though. After all, financial strength alone does not bring happiness to family leaders or their NextGen children.
In fact, family wealth often presents significant challenges for family members and comes with a complicated history and some odds that are often not in your favor. In fact, wealth often breaks down family trust and relationships. In addition, family members who are impressively successful in many aspects of their lives tend to be too busy or simply ill-equipped to celebrate their familial heritage and prioritize their family connections. Whether it’s a parent and child, two siblings, or even a few cousins, these family relationships are often ripe with relational chaos and an emotional distance that ultimately put the family’s significant assets at risk. Up to 90% of all families lose their wealth by their 3rd generation, and nearly 90% of all family businesses also disappear during this timeframe.
So, what does it take to be a high-performance, multi-generation family and not become one of these statistics? I was fortunate enough to speak with Chris Yount, former 3rd-generation President & CEO of his family’s business Fortifiber Corporation, a manufacturer and distributor of waterproofing products for home construction. Here’s what he had to say about the real-life lessons he’s learned on what it takes to become a high-performance, multi-generation family.
According to Yount, there are three main pillars to be a high-performance family.
One of my former coaching clients contacted me earlier this week looking for direction. Now I’ve had several clients over the years share with me during our coaching programs that they regularly find themselves wondering “W.W.J.D.?” When my first client shared that acronym for “What Would Jeremy Do?” with me, I laughed. Since then, I’ve simply come to appreciate that my role as an executive coach is to shift my clients’ thinking with new insights and ideas whether I’m there by their sides or not.
This one was different though. I haven’t coached this leader for several years, and he’s now CEO of a completely different organization. These are unprecedented times though, so I probably shouldn’t be surprised that even he’s looking for some outside perspective on how best to make decisions with all of the uncertainty around Coronavirus. He was in the process of drafting communications about their future plans for his key customers, and as he put it, “No one really knows what October is going to look like!”
The guidance he needed comes from the distinction between “Now” and “Not Now”. You might think you know what “now” means. Sure, it’s right now. If you’re open to it, now can mean so much more than that though. Now serves as a powerful way of classifying anything that exists and is already being managed, whether it’s in this very moment or something for which we’ve already planned. Now, I’m writing an article about decisive leadership. I’m also handling several other things now though.
These are uncertain times to say the least. For those who still have jobs, most are working from home. Those who are in essential positions may be working at their company’s worksites with heightened concern for their health and wellness. As long as this Coronavirus crisis continues and these “safer at home” guidelines are in place, we all are living with much more anxiety and stress than usual – without our usual outlets to rest and recharge.
Whose job is it then to keep your team members calm, composed, and focused? I’ve considered new titles like “Chief Engagement Officer” for all the CEOs out there, but the reality is that some CEOs aren’t comfortable or capable playing this vital role. So who is it in your organization? A Business Unit leader? Another senior executive? Maybe your head of HR? Someone needs to assume the position of “Chief Communication Officer” right now if your company is going to be productive and survive this crisis.
I’m not going to let CEOs off the hook just yet though for not being positive role models and engaging their employees directly. Business owners and Presidents/CEOs need to step up during this crisis. Your people need to hear from YOU right now. Not just their direct supervisors or middle-level managers. YOU! Nobody can generate the same positive energy and enthusiasm or settle a workforce like the owner/CEO of a business. More importantly, most of your next-level leaders are less than effective in cascading information from higher-level leadership in the best of times. It’s unreasonable – and quite frankly, unfair – to expect more from them now given everybody’s heightened emotions and anxiety. No matter how good they are, wouldn’t you agree that they aren’t Chief Communication Officer caliber?
The information we are receiving on a daily and in some cases hourly basis is staggering… Well over 180,000 infected by the novel Coronavirus worldwide at the time of writing. More than 7,000 deaths already. In the United States alone, we now have nearly 5,000 cases reported with nearly 100 deaths. And the virus is still spreading – fast! Those US numbers specifically will surely rise as testing ramps up throughout the country.
What do we do, then, to stay calm and maintain composure during what has been labeled by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a global “pandemic” and even here in the US a “National emergency” by President Trump and his administration? How do we stay positive and keep our families together as a government-mandated lockdown begins? The following might just save your relationship with your spouse/partner or keep your children from wanting to disown you over the next several weeks:
Exercise: During the lockdown, you won’t be able to use a public gym. You might not even be able to walk your dogs at the beach or go for a jog around the school track in some communities. If you have a treadmill or other workout equipment at home, great. Use it! If you don’t, you can still do push-ups and sit-ups and stretch
you ever find yourself only paying attention to information that interests you?
Do you ever interrupt someone who is speaking to you to make your own point?
Perhaps you simply tune out people you don’t like or multi-task at your
computer while only listening out of one ear when you have to communicate with
these folks you don’t like.
leaders, we can all do a better job of paying attention to those around us. If
we stop speaking so much ourselves and really listen to what they are trying to
say, we may not only produce better results together but also gain greater personal
satisfaction and fulfillment from our work! To that end, the following key
points will help you evaluate your own communications approaches and learn to
communicate more effectively moving forward.
Think about a social issue or cause that matters to you. I mean really matters to you! Now, think about what organizations out there address that very issue or provide services for those impacted by your concerns. Is it your local church, a no-kill animal shelter, an agency that supports the homeless, an organization fighting cancer or AIDS, or maybe just the professional or trade association that supports your own industry?
Imagine if you were the Executive Director or other senior executive of this wonderful Mission-driven organization. What would you do to recruit top talent to join your organization? How would you keep them engaged and committed to your work when they do? Leaders in the not-for-profit arena often struggle with talent management and employee engagement more than others because they don’t have the same financial means and abilities around compensation as for-profit corporations. If we don’t help these leaders recruit and retain their Superstars though, then how are we going to address those critical issues that matter most to us?
I recently led a Leadership Team offsite to review last year’s strategic objectives for this growing organization and set new goals for the year ahead. One might think that the entire focus of this two-day event would be calibrating everyone’s efforts for continued growth. While that clearly was our context and guiding intention, how we got there was less of a direct path.
Fortunately for this organization and the many customers it serves, each of the business owners believes in team development and creating camaraderie to inspire greater performance from their leaders. As a result, our two-day schedule was not nearly as packed as it could have been. Instead, we took much of the first afternoon to go kart racing. And by kart racing, I mean experiencing one of the greatest racetracks ever built at Road America, one of the greatest race courses in the United States.
Family businesses are perhaps the most complex organizations combining two different and potentially conflicting value systems – the family and the business. Very few family business leaders successfully implement a “both/and” approach to managing this inherent overlap between their family and their business to effectively prioritize both at the same time. Neither is right nor wrong per se, and both very clearly serve a purpose. The question then for any family business owner is whether or not you prioritize the family or the business. Or do you do both?
As summer quickly comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on the many different leaders I have the privilege of coaching these days. One of whom actually took an extended 4-week vacation this summer, and another who worked her way through a shorter 1-week family trip to Hawaii.
Let’s be clear. I am not judging either of these otherwise very busy and successful results-oriented executives. One for leaving his team to their own devices for an entire month. One for not getting the quality get-away with her family that she had expected. I’m simply recognizing the value of getting away for some good old-fashioned R&R from time to time. The physical and emotional break from work not only gives our bodies the rest they need but also gives our minds the fresh perspective to contribute when we return to work.
Family-owned businesses are much more than just the oldest form of economic organization. They may actually be the most important to today’s economy! According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, about 90 percent of all businesses in America – roughly 5.5 million – are family-owned or controlled. More than that, these family businesses contribute over 50% of the U.S. gross domestic product, and they employ more than 60% of the workforce in our country.
That all sounds great, but the overwhelming majority of these family businesses will not succeed from one generation to the next unless we do something about it. Only about 30% of all family-owned businesses successfully continue from their first to their second generation. Third and fourth-generation family businesses are even more rare at only 12% and 3%, respectively. That’s quite frightening when nearly 90% of these same families’ wealth will literally disappear during that same timeframe when they don’t successfully maintain their businesses.
According to recent studies as well as our own direct client experience, more and more private companies are establishing Boards. Countless CEOs and business entrepreneurs are strong-willed, talented professionals in their areas of expertise and can’t imagine reporting to a higher-level governing body. These “experts”, however, may still be interested in assembling a group of dedicated Advisors who bring complementary talents to the table. Other executive leaders, especially those in family businesses, may take it a step further by assembling a group of Directors who accept greater responsibility for the governance of the companies they serve. These Directors actually assume fiduciary responsibility for the company’s performance and thus have more of a controlling influence on their CEOs and broader businesses.
My business coach used to ask me the best question ever – one that I always hated! Whenever we sat down for our one-to-one coaching sessions, the conversation would inevitably turn to how busy I was and how I never had enough time to get it all done – especially not the future-focused strategic work. While he was a compassionate person, he never went down the pity party path with me. Instead, he simply asked, “So whose job are you doing now?”
I think we all know that the CEO’s job is to define the future vision and strategic direction for the company. From there, the CEO then needs to make sure that vision and strategy is communicated to and carried out by everyone across the organization. Why? To make sure all their efforts are aligned and help move the organization forward towards achieving its strategic objectives. But is that it? Is that all the CEO has to do? Absolutely not! That’s just the tip of the iceberg for what a good CEO does in his/her organization.
What impact would being more productive have on the results you produce? On your leadership and personal development? On your business’ bottom line?
Imagine how much more you could contribute to your organization if you could increase your productivity. Even by just a little bit. Like other skills, productivity is something you can develop. You can cultivate it. It’s possible you could be more productive than ever before!
I support a lot of family businesses and regularly hear from my clients how they pride themselves on creating positive work environments for their employees where they treat everyone like family. That’s quite admirable, and I’m sure those employees very much appreciate it. The question though is what to do with all the employees who actually are family!
Family businesses by their very nature are complex organizations. It’s not just about managing and operating a sustainable business with a family business. It’s about the leadership and governance practices required to keep any family drama and unproductive relationships away from work. In multi-generation family businesses, we’re talking 20, 40, 60 and even 100 or more years of history running the company. On the personal side, that’s generations of family members living together and growing up together who need to work together to operate that same business. That can create a lot of added stress and anxiety – something that many family business leaders are poorly equipped to handle – on an otherwise viable business.
Eight years ago, I wrote a blog post entitled “The 4 P’s of Olympic Gold”. The article was inspired by Shaun White’s amazing Gold medal performance at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Anybody who watched the Men’s Halfpipe competition that year though knows that White didn’t just deliver one Gold-medal run…
The results were clear before White even started his second and final run. He was still standing on the platform overlooking the crowd when he learned he already won Olympic Gold. In that moment though, he didn’t stop and do the victory dance. He didn’t take the easy way down the pipe with his board in hand. After what seemed like a long debate with his coaches about what to do, he instead looked down to his fans and did what a true Gold medalist would do. He delivered an even better performance than his earlier run, stuck his final landing, and beat himself for the Gold medal – again!
Ever wonder how much time your employees are wasting at work? Try Googling “wasted time at work” when you aren’t otherwise being productive, and the statistics may amaze you! Between cell phones, Facebook, and simply surfing the internet, employees these days waste an inordinate amount of time not focused on work while at work being paid to work. Research over the last few years has shown that this wasted time is costing companies billions (yes, BILLIONS) of dollars every year.
Now, what if you too have fallen into this familiar time-sucker trap? And what if you are a senior executive or other functional leader at your company? The cost of your being distracted instead of focused goes well beyond your own work tasks. It likely impacts everybody on your team and around you!
Have you ever wanted to change something only to realize that others don’t want to change? Whether you’re trying to implement a simple process change with your direct team or transform your whole company, organizational change doesn’t just happen because you have what you think is a good idea or because you want it to happen. People resist change for a variety of reasons, so it is critical to communicate what that change is all about to those who will be most affected by it if you want them to embrace your changes like you do.
Have you ever tried to force yourself back into the swing of things after a setback? I’ve experienced plenty of setbacks – what I’ve come to call “woe is me moments” – in my life. Almost every leader does from time to time. What makes great leaders so great though is that they experience setbacks merely as part of the process – as in “two steps forward, one step back” – rather than total failures to be ashamed of. More than that, strong leaders know how to bounce back – fast!
Learning how to deal with setbacks is essential for any successful leader. So how do we get back on our feet after getting knocked down? There are 7 ways great leaders bounce back from failure and rise above their circumstances. Let’s look at each one of them together.
1. Start Something New The first step to break out of a “failure funk” is to start something new. For example, you can turn your attention to a different aspect of your business to refocus your attention. If you suffered a setback in sales, maybe you can redirect your attention to some new marketing activities you haven’t prioritized in a while. Or you might want to design a new program that opens your business up to a wider market segment than before. This innovation and creativity can light a fire in you that motivates you to get out of bed every day and get right back in the saddle.
2. Remember Past Victories Celebrating your victories is always a good idea, but it’s especially useful to celebrate what you’ve already accomplished when you are getting over a setback. I personally keep an “at a boy file” of positive feedback and accolades from my clients on my computer for times just like this since it goes a long way to picking up my spirits and getting me back on my feet whenever I experience a failure of some kind. More than that, it also reminds me of what I’m good at and helps me regain my composure before I get stuck in that “failure funk”. They say hindsight is 20/20, so why not remember your past victories to reconnect with your passions and get back into the flow again?