Business and leadership failures; how to avoid being next

The recent global upheaval has brought down some iconic companies, and in some cases it is obvious why these leaders failed.

But in most cases it is not that clear how exactly that leader failed, when we reconsider by visually stepping into his or her shoes without benefit of hindsight. Most of these leaders say they made the best decision with the information they had and were aimed in the direction their stakeholders wanted them to go. Could you or someone you know be next? And it is with this realization that we leaders pause.

Below is one of several news releases that depict a leader that in hindsight didn’t lead in the right direction. This one is about the SEC’s Chairman Christopher Cox. An earlier article was about AIG’s former CEO Martin Sullivan. My comments are in italics.

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Wow! October 11

We had an unexpected change this week so rather than being in Texas today, I am here…

It is good to remember that “Everything in life happens for a reason and a purpose, and it serves us.”

Now I realize you are thinking I’m off on a tangent! And you may be wondering why so many of these “Wow!”s are focused on what seems to be non-business stuff. What I can tell you is that people are the critical resource of any organization and without them we would have no “Wow!”…

That said this week’s “Wow!” goes to a person I’ve been working with for a few years now and we will both tell you it has been rocky at times. And at times some things left us feeling not in control. Yet we both keep coming back with consideration of what is in our control to improve the situation…and we take action.

The action-taker being honored today is ——–.

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Communication tips for leaders: when times are uncertain

This transformation guidance is more personal in nature. In the last post I posed some questions about communication in tough times.

Here are a few tips if you are open to mental work:

Take steps to rid your uncertainty with the present (or past). Be certain about the future.
How? There are many ways to do this. I’ve found some that work well for me that I’ll touch on here and can expand if you are interested. I’ll focus on leaders, who are often processers and problem-solvers.

If you are a problem-solver you may not feel settled without fixing whatever it is right now. Many will say that the best thing to do is to focus on solving the problem. That was me. I’ve made progress. Sure I still solve problems – lots of them. It is that I select the problem and typically tackle it very early when something still can be done about it, sometimes even catching it before the problem is well known.

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Wow! When the team helps develop great connections

This week’s “Wow!” goes to a person who is brand new to our team and in fact we’ve only held one one-on-one conversation. So, this email is one of several fast actions taken because of what was triggered during this call. The nature of that call is worth sharing and that is why it earns a place as this week’s “Wow!” The person on the other end of that call was ———-.

Here’s our “wow” for this week: “WOW!” , adding value was on your mind when we talked, and although we couldn’t know where the conversation would lead when we started, as there was no real agenda other than some questions about our agreement, your aim was served…and C-Secure Systems will be stronger because of it.

Why is this “wow!”? Without giving too many details but to answer the questions of those of you who are now thinking “What happened on that call?!” … We discussed each of our company’s purposes and markets so that we could determine if there was any conflict in our working together and, if not, then what type of non-disclosure agreement would best suit. But what happened then is more than the signing of an NDA.

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How do you communicate bad news?

What message would you communicate to your employees if you are (or were to be) a leader of a company suffering from lost profits, lost customers and/or lost value during these still uncertain times? How would you communicate it? What would you expect the employees to do next? What might you tell employees about changes you/leadership will make? How would you handle your own emotions caused by uncertainty? How might you refocus yourself, your mastermind (those around you that help with decisions) and your employees on solutions? How might you keep the communication… and the positive sparks it should create…alive?

Wow! Strength of team

I set a new precedence in my last email by extending a “Wow!” to actions that did not necessarily happen by the preceding week, but triggered during the week in my mind (usually during a long fast walk!) and worth broadcasting. This week’s “Wow!” follows this same trend. Another similarity is that this week’s entry has to do with learning. The difference, though, is that last week it was about someone who has greatly helped my learning. This time it is about a team member who is truly giving his best effort to learn and build his value to the team.

Here’s our “wow” for this week: “WOW!” , you are proving your strength of character as you step back from a lead role and take on projects for which you have introduced to us your peers and subject experts … all in a selfless drive to make sure Abrige & C-Secure get the final product we need.

Why is this “wow!”? You and your team brought back DISCOVERY (after it did not accept operating system upgrades well) when others before you had failed. You simply took one step at a time…and did it!

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How employees can improve their performance review success

I wanted to share with you what a consultant hired to work with employees is promoting. The consultant is Dr. Doris Helge of Joy at Work. While this is aimed at employees, I believe you will benefit from reading it:


Dana and Frank are discussing the results of Frank’s recent performance evaluation.

Dana: You sound like you were surprised by the boss’s negative comments.
Frank: Surprised? . . . Amazed! All year long I’ve thought things were fine!
Dana: You have to schedule informal appraisals all year long.

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Wow! Mentoring the leader

Some of you have heard a lot about our company officer ——— and are unsure what his role is. Here’s the deal: other than being extraordinary (which is a characteristic and not a role), he is a professional and personal mentor to me. He has vast experience in leading and mentoring. He offers a fabulous mix of bedside manner and discipline that has served me and our company well. He also “gets” both of the businesses we run, Abrige and C-Secure Systems, and continuously networks to uncover market needs and generate leads.

Here’s our “wow” for this week: “WOW!”, for not only introducing us into the market… I give a resounding thank you for helping me to become a better leader and to keep our company aligned with its vision without falling out of line with our strong values.

Why is this “wow!”? The company leadership sets the tone and direction for all. As we grow and become visible it can be so appealing to try and do everything and to say “yes” to other leaders and so-called experts that, if listening to intuition, this intuition (a gut feeling that “knows” our values and purpose) is screaming “no.”

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Connecting people to business performance

Where do people fit into the business model? This may seem like an absurd question….

We have learned that business success depends on having the right mix of the four p’s – price, product, place and promotion.

Now that knowledge management is the key to 21st century business success, the fifth p – people – becomes critical.

HR is positioned to be a strategic director; one tasked with helping the rest of the organization weave people into management information systems.

What if ______________ (your organization) operate like:

Wow! Attracting a strong team

We are positioning ourselves to great improvement in visibility, our front line theme, thanks for ——–.

Here’s our “wow” for this week: “WOW!”, for so quickly building a sales team for C-Secure Systems!!!

Why is this “wow!”? Not only has he continued to seek connections with new prospective customers and improve our message as targeted to those customers, he also has attracted to C-Secure one other senior- and two junior- sales professionals.

Why is it important? We have an unmatched turn-key tailored solution for monitoring, managing, securing and gaining intelligence from and about machines (and vehicles, structures, etc.)…yet we are almost invisible. Yes, we have a website. We waited too long to get it optimized so we are contacted infrequently (good news: when we do get calls they are highly qualified already). Although we are fixing this now, the clock is ticking! In fact we need to be well locked-in with customers f-a-s-t…before we become well-known to competitors. I have confidence in him. He and his growing team will better find, engage and close deals.



P.S.S The mix of people provided in the first “Wow” email has changed! Some gone, several added. The newest ones are not seeing this yet, and they will be introduced soon. In every case I see improvement. This is what having themes (ours are Stability! And Visibility!) can do for a company, especially when themes are also aligned with our purpose and mission/values. They are. And so are our people. For those of you seeing this email, I am thrilled to have you here. Please continue to find us great people as we grow!