Farewell to a decade of lessons

This New Year’s Eve marks more than the end of a tumultuous year for the economy and for business – it marks the end of the first decade of the 21st century. And the very first lesson was learned as the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve 2000. The computers that run everything, from the world’s financial systems, operations and security to our personal computers, didn’t stop working. Y2K doomsday concerns didn’t happen. Yes, this decade was about surviving, beginning with the Y2K computer clock scare to the worst global economic crisis/depression of our times. There was 9/11 that taught us that America is vulnerable to terrorist attack and how one horrific act can instill lasting fear and uncertainty across a nation. America went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq. There were major lessons to learn.

No matter how you look at it, as business leaders, the last year of this decade taught us the most. Our leadership abilities were pressure-tested in every way. We learned how avoiding tough decisions can be costly. We learned how to make do with less. Much less. We learned the true meaning of “sense or urgency.” Without question, leading a company through the next decade is doing to be even more demanding and unforgiving.

The good news is that every lesson learned over these past 10 years is priceless – no matter how painful it was. The question that will be answered in the next decade is how well you learned your lessons. This is where the concept and thinking of no-compromise leadership enters the mix. Melding all of those priceless lessons into your leadership thinking and behavior requires personal discipline, commitment, focus, tenacity, courage and integrity. It’s hard work because leading a company is hard work – and the best and most cherished rewards always come from hard work.

If you survived the decade, you did OK and, despite whatever challenges linger, you’re still in the game while many others are not. If you’re coming out of the decade thriving and with a full head of steam, you understand no compromise. You’re ready to learn more lessons.

To wrap up this 52nd Monday Morning Wake-Up for 2009, I have a simple request. Close your computer, iPhone, Blackberry or other smart phone. Turn off the noise of the world around for just 60 contemplative minutes. Find a quiet place, preferably one where you can look out at the trees and sky, and reflect on the lessons you learned over this decade. Reflect on the tough stuff and definitely savor the good stuff – the wins, the proud moments and the breakthroughs that occurred on your leadership watch. Take this time to acknowledge that you did well. You earned it.

The next Monday Morning Wake-Up will be on January 4th – four days into the game called 2010.

From all of us at Strategies, we wish you a profoundly happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

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

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


1 Response to “Farewell to a decade of lessons”

  1. December 31, 2009 at 1:52 am

    Since the NCL Boot Camp last February I have been striving to adopt NCL as a way of corporate leadership. I have fed on other management and leadership as well, including Bruce Tulgan, Jim Collins and Susan Scott. I have benefitted greatly from Susan Scott’s book Fierce Leadership. The reason is because I have had the NCL framework in which to develop those conversations. Without No Compromise Leadership as a model, the fierce conversations would have been only a voice in the forest.

    I mention all of this because this evening I was tested. I will spare you the boring petty details but, suffice it to say, I had an employee issue with which to deal. I did not avoid it, nor did I postpone it. I came back to the salon to have a conversation with the employee.

    Before I arrived, I had relayed advance word that I was not at all happy about having to return to the salon about this matter. Upon arriving she knew and I admitted that I was irritated. I let her know that while I was irritated, there was nothing better that I had to do with my time than to deal with her. I was understanding. I was firm. And I did not back down. She gave excuses. She cried. She got emotional. She pointed her finger and called me dude. I kept my intelligence high and my emotions low.

    I explained to her that we needed to have this conversation. I explained to her that she had behavioral and communications issues that were causing problems and that would limit her future personal and professional growth. Six months ago I would have caved or not have even had the conversation. I would have said it was hard.

    But it wasn’t hard because I believe that No Compromise Leadership is what it takes to build a great company and what it takes to get through tough times. I believe that our people want strong leaders that know what they want, that know where they are going and that are unwilling to tolerate anything less. No Compromise Leadership prepared me for this conversation.

    After two hours, the employee realized that she was getting nowhere. She had used every tactic she had to break through. I did not break. When baited, I told her the bloody truth and it hurt her feelings. Later, defenseless, she admitted that she had heard this before. And that is when the real coaching began and the real conversation took place. What I offered was the courage to lay the truth on her and then extend a hand to pull her up to her next level of potential. I am quite certain that I grew more from the experience than she did. But only because she was willing to stay in the conversation long enough for us to get to the truth.

    I share this with everyone because I believe in No Compromise Leadership and while it is not complete (what model is?), it is the absolute best leadership model I have seen. Moreover, it allows us to incorporate other leadership, management and communication skills to make us more effective. That is, in my opinion another attribute of the No Compromise model. I can’t wait for Mr. Ducoff’s next book.

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