The results are in, the votes have been tallied, and, after a long, ugly election year, not much has changed. The partisan split in our government suggests policies will continue to be crisis-driven and reactive to economic challenges. Business owners are complaining about the threat of new taxes and other imagined catastrophes brought by our political gridlock. Still, I believe the future remains bright for those who can keep a cool head and spot the opportunities.
While changing markets and economies are demanding that business plans and strategies to be updated, business leaders often overlook the personal changes they will need to undergo in order to lead a change. The four factors that cause leaders to avoid change are fear, ego, conflict avoidance, and complacency. As we develop plans for the next year, it is wise for leaders to review the beliefs and assumptions underpinning the plan and do a “gut check” on the emotions tied to those beliefs. Perhaps some risks can be identified that can be managed and worth taking.
I have been saddened by the news of General Petraeus’s resignation from the CIA. His fall from grace cannot negate the fact that he has been a great leader and public servant. It is ironic that the November 12th Time Magazine published Paula Broadwell’s “Patraeus’s Rules for Living.” I’d like to paraphrase and pass on some of the rules that are relevant for business leaders today:
- Lead by example. Your performance level will greatly influence the performance of the organization.
- Provide a vision. Combine clear and achievable “big ideas” with strategic concepts and communicate it widely.
- Be humble. “Listen and Learn.”
- Leaders should be thoughtful but decisive. Take input from subordinates, evaluate actions and contingencies, and accept 80% solutions. Be prepared to make the call “when all eyes turn to you.”
As always, I would appreciate your thoughts.