20
Oct
08

Are you throwing Alka-Seltzer in your St. Helens?

‘ve been teaching a lot of seminars and doing a considerable amount of coaching these past few months. If I had to use one word to describe the emotional state most often encountered, I’d have to use the word “stress.” In these crazy economic times, it just seems like owners are stressed to some degree over the uncertainty of how their business will fair. The constant barrage of bad news doesn’t help much either. The question is, what are you going to do right now to ensure that your business will weather the storm and emerge rock-solid? If there is any cure for stress, it’s taking action, being proactive and kicking some business butt. There’s little or no time for stress when you’re taking action. Sitting around worrying or obsessing over what to do and doing nothing, feeds and deepens stress.
I’ve spent the better part of my career teaching and helping entrepreneurs work through their challenges and grow successful businesses. Just about every business owner knows what the problems are in his or her business. They know who the unproductive employees are. They know what’s undermining teamwork and fueling all that senseless drama. They know payroll is too high and which expenses need to be contained. They know that cash-flow plans either don’t exist, and if they do, they’re not living their plans. Simply put, they know. You know.
If owners know what the problems are, why don’t they – why don’t you – fix them? The answer is actually quite simple. It’s the fear of making big changes and how badly those big changes will rock the boat. Productive employees may leave. The changes will be unpopular and create discontent. Maybe the changes won’t work. So, rather than implement a cure that may rock the boat, owners create some short-term discomfort or require the learning of new business skills, and small, largely ineffective solutions are attempted instead. It’s like throwing an Alka-Seltzer in Mount St. Helens. Plop, plop, fizz, fizz – the eruption rages on.
I received the following email from an owner who just returned from a Strategies course on no-compromise leadership. The business has been struggling financially and she just completed performance reviews that she described as “crucial conversations.” She wrote:
“I feel empowered and I keep these words in mind. At night when I tuck my son into bed, how will I explain that he won’t have his bedroom in the house that he loves, in the neighborhood he feels safe in, or go to the school where he feels confident and loved? The likelihood of loosing it all is a respected fear that I am no longer willing to ignore or sweep under the rug. Going no compromise is really hard, but the alternative is much more uncomfortable and scary. Neil, I finally get it.”
Those are some pretty powerful words from an owner who traded in her bottle of Alka-Seltzer to do the tough work of a no-compromise leader. She gets it that rocking the boat is part of change. She knows that her decisions may not be popular with her team and some may leave, but she has the respect and loyalty of those that want to build something special together.
In these times, never forget that business problems are like icebergs. You see only a small piece of the problem while the real danger looms large below the surface. As the leader, you must not only be strategic, you must be decisive. If you need to cut expenses, cut decisively. If you need to address performance issues, address them decisively. If you need to give certain toxic employees a career opportunity, do so decisively.
Becoming a no-compromise leader is truly a road less traveled. Not because it’s necessarily long or difficult, but because of the unwavering commitment and perseverance to be such a leader. Is it time for you to allow the no-compromise leader in you to emerge?
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

st-helens-1I’ve been teaching a lot of seminars and doing a considerable amount of coaching these past few months. If I had to use one word to describe the emotional state most often encountered, I’d have to use the word “stress.” In these crazy economic times, it just seems like owners are stressed to some degree over the uncertainty of how their business will fair. The constant barrage of bad news doesn’t help much either. The question is, what are you going to do right now to ensure that your business will weather the storm and emerge rock-solid? If there is any cure for stress, it’s taking action, being proactive and kicking some business butt. There’s little or no time for stress when you’re taking action. Sitting around worrying or obsessing over what to do and doing nothing, feeds and deepens stress.

I’ve spent the better part of my career teaching and helping entrepreneurs work through their challenges and grow successful businesses. Just about every business owner knows what the problems are in his or her business. They know who the unproductive employees are. They know what’s undermining teamwork and fueling all that senseless drama. They know payroll is too high and which expenses need to be contained. They know that cash-flow plans either don’t exist, and if they do, they’re not living their plans. Simply put, they know. You know.

If owners know what the problems are, why don’t they – why don’t you – fix them? The answer is actually quite simple. It’s the fear of making big changes and how badly those big changes will rock the boat. Productive employees may leave. The changes will be unpopular and create discontent. Maybe the changes won’t work. So, rather than implement a cure that may rock the boat, owners create some short-term discomfort or require the learning of new business skills, and small, largely ineffective solutions are attempted instead. It’s like throwing an Alka-Seltzer in Mount St. Helens. Plop, plop, fizz, fizz – the eruption rages on.

I received the following email from an owner who just returned from a Strategies course on no-compromise leadership. The business has been struggling financially and she just completed performance reviews that she described as “crucial conversations.” She wrote:

“I feel empowered and I keep these words in mind. At night when I tuck my son into bed, how will I explain that he won’t have his bedroom in the house that he loves, in the neighborhood he feels safe in, or go to the school where he feels confident and loved? The likelihood of loosing it all is a respected fear that I am no longer willing to ignore or sweep under the rug. Going no compromise is really hard, but the alternative is much more uncomfortable and scary. Neil, I finally get it.”

Those are some pretty powerful words from an owner who traded in her bottle of Alka-Seltzer to do the tough work of a no-compromise leader. She gets it that rocking the boat is part of change. She knows that her decisions may not be popular with her team and some may leave, but she has the respect and loyalty of those that want to build something special together.

In these times, never forget that business problems are like icebergs. You see only a small piece of the problem while the real danger looms large below the surface. As the leader, you must not only be strategic, you must be decisive. If you need to cut expenses, cut decisively. If you need to address performance issues, address them decisively. If you need to give certain toxic employees a career opportunity, do so decisively.

Becoming a no-compromise leader is truly a road less traveled. Not because it’s necessarily long or difficult, but because of the unwavering commitment and perseverance to be such a leader. Is it time for you to allow the no-compromise leader in you to emerge?

Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.

Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO and author of No-Compromise Leadership

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