(by Richard Lavin, LeveragedWisdom.com)
Tackling tough questions that keep owners of privately held businesses up at night. Two scenarios: What’s the expiration date on your business, service, product, sales process? When will your top sales person stop producing at a peak rate? Is your customer base no longer loyal? As CEO, if you are incapacitated what happens?
The stark reality is that there is life cycle to everything. The Panama Canal had to be widened. What happened to Kodak? Steve Jobs died. TB became resistant to the preferred drug protocol. Is your equipment delimiting your growth or ability to deliver new products? Will your customers abandon you for the “new, new”? Is it a fad or trend? Do you have the banking resources to go the distance? Are you making, selling, servicing or supplying ”Twinkies”?
Tough questions are often difficult to ask within your own leadership team because everyone has an agenda and a vested interest in the status quo. Further, calling into question each other’s competencies, judgment and vision is threatening.
In these situations, LEVERAGED WISDOM CEOs have found the confidential setting of our meetings to be a place they can openly discuss their concerns about all of the above, without risking undermining the confidence of their team or telegraphing their next move. Further they’re able to candidly discuss their personal financial risks or the financial commitment needed to support change.
On the other hand, an enlightened management team can take on these tough questions through the strategic planning process. (Though, the team will rarely assess the personal financial, reputational and psychological risks of the owning CEO.)
The classic strategic planning scenario is to put on the wall sticky flip chart pages titled Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT Analysis). Management dutifully fills out the pages, votes on priorities and builds a consensus view as to what the team should be focusing on during the next 12 to 36 months. CEOs at LEVERAGED WISDOM find the most important and therefore most challenging conversations around the headings Weaknesses, defined as internal weaknesses and Threats, defined as external threats.
Internal weaknesses and External threats are where in the strategy session the leadership team becomes most vulnerable and has to work outside their comfort zone. That’s why we like to start with these two categories and drill down to expose frailties. This takes courage; but, eventually, these are the discussions that lead to the biggest breakthroughs and real opportunities.
Whatever the setting, wise leaders work hard to get out of their own comfort zone and push their leadership team to get out of theirs.
To continue the conversation, you can reach Richard Lavin at 917 405 6987.
This article has been reposted with permission from Richard Lavin. LinkedIn Profile