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Quit fighting, move forward

Posted: July 19, 2014 9:50 p.m.
Updated: July 19, 2014 9:50 p.m.

 

The signals I pick up on the economy continue to show a mixed bag. One week I think things are getting better; the next week I see signs of impending doom.

Whatever your take on the economy, July is always a good time to consider successes and failures, review strategies and make necessary changes for the last half of the year.

One of the major responsibilities of a leader is to take the fear out of the future.

This is easier said than done because of the turbulent economic and political environment most businesses operate in today.

The constant uncertainty and change has turned those employed into a constant reactionary state where the surprises never end.

Hard working people come to work every day no longer make a list of tasks or results they want to achieve because when they arrive, someone shouts “Fire” and the next 10 hours are spent dealing with a crisis.

Distractions abound. Today’s problems will easily be carried over to tomorrow unless someone takes a stand and starts looking to the future; what could be.

That someone has to be the owner.

However, some owners live for a crisis. In fact, without a crisis to deal with, they are utterly lost and bored.

I’ve figured out that some owners want to be seen as the constant hero; the fire-fighter if you will, always waiting around, impatiently for the next crisis to deal with.

I’ve even known owners who manufacture calamities so they can show their employees how smart they are, how well they manage, how decisive they are and to prove that the business they own cannot operate without their hands on style of daunting leadership.

The problem with this constant predicament, this all-the-time firefighting mode is an exhausting environment for everyone but the person at the top.

To be sure, some situations are externally inflicted, such as a competitor stirring up trouble or hostage-taking by a supplier or major client.

The good book says “Without a vision, the people perish.” There is no stronger medicine to fight the infection of the constant crisis than a fresh look at the vision for the organization.

Can you state your vision statement? Or do you need to go look at the words on the wall somewhere?

Can anyone earning a paycheck from your company state what your vision statement is?

These are not meant to be insulting questions; they are asked to provide a reality check because if you don’t know where you are taking the company you own, you can bet the people that are supposed to be helping you get there aren’t helping you because they don’t know where you are leading them.

What is the destination of the company? Does your company have a BHAG (Big, Hairy Audacious Goal)?

Has your company made progress towards your current vision this year? Where has progress been made? What are the obstacles? Where do you need to push harder; are you taking time to think things through in order to move forward?

Does your vision grab the attention of your team? Will your vendors work with you to help it become reality?

Will your vision help your clients? Have you shared the vision with those your company serves, the ones who pay your invoices, the ones who financially support the enterprise?

How much progress will you be making in the next year? Does your vision reflect reality? Is it full of energy, direction, and focus?

One of my old mentors often said, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.”

The person at the top sets the tone for the company they lead. Your company can be proactive and move forward to a better future or you can lead your people by fighting fires all day.

Ken Keller facilitates The Wise Owners Advisory Boards, bringing business owners together for education, sharing and on-going success. Contact him at KenKeller@SBCglobal.net. Keller’s column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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