GUEST AUTHOR BLOG by Mark Stevens author of, "Your Company Sucks: It's Time to Declare War on Yourself."
Great business people have nothing to do with Wharton degrees, tech brilliance or deal making prowess. They know that success requires constant reinvention and redirection. When they hear that little voice in the back of their heads whispering "My company has stalled”, they don't ignore it. They don’t blame others. They don't hope. And they don't put their businesses on auto pilot.
Instead, they have learned to “Declare War”--on themselves.
There are millions of companies in the world, and I daresay that most fall far short of the CEO’s ambitions—all for FOUR basic reasons:
All too often, the person with the title of President/CEO and the corner office lacks the vision, courage or both to make the difficult decisions that are always required to keep the company on strategy. Instead of serving as true leaders, they engage in "followership."
Do you think Steve Jobssat in his bed wrestling with the idea that we could secure "buy in" for the iPhone? Absolutely not. Jobs was determined to bring the technology to market and anyone who stood in his way would not have a place at Apple .
Sure, there is great value in having your team rally around and execute your vision with passion and determination, but you can never make the mistake of running the company as a town hall democracy. Leaders must lead.
Lust To Lax Syndrome
We all know the drill. A potential customer appears before our eyes and we lust after them to land the new business. We may offer discounts, create Power Points, hold lavish dinners but whatever combination of romantic tools we apply, we are determined to give the object of our lust everything they may want to succumb to our courtship and come aboard.
The dream soon turns to reality: we hit pay dirt and all of the lust turns to lax. We dump the prospect into the customer file, assign them a number and move on to sweet talk the next object of our desire.
How can a company keep the lust alive after the win occurs? Simple. Treat the customer as family.
Just when it appears as if a business has broken the code, entered a period of non-stop growth, defied the odds and found a way to move along a continuously upward trajectory, real life rears its ugly head.
The truth is when the company's growth seems so strong and certain that it can go on autopilot, management relaxes its reign on the strategy and the execution of it, allowing a once-closely directed business to float. In the vacuum this creates, complacency takes hold. You know it by the unmistakable signs: Attention focuses inward, warring camps develop, declining revenues are attributed to a downturn in the economy. Everyone internally is absolved of responsibility and freed from the need to address the real issues and to find meaningful ways to turn the company around.
So much of the business textbook is ruled by conventional thinking. Think of this as a set of rules and beliefs passed along through the generations that have stuck in spite of the fact that they have little value.
Consider the widely-held belief in the 80/20 rule. In one application, this holds that 20 percent of a company's salespeople will always account for 80 percent of its sales. Well, this may often be true, we should not accept it as the gospel. You are then accepting the "law" that 80 percent of your salespeople are failures, yet kept on the payroll to validate, yes--the 80/20 rule (which should be renamed the 80/20 myth).
Knowing that your company is failing to perform to its greatest potential is not sufficient to engineer a turnaround. The time for accusing others, pointing fingers, making excuses, blaming it on the economy, absorbing the pabulum of professors, coaches and motivational speakers is OVER! You must declare war on yourself. War that is designed to replace bad habits and conventional thinking with a fresh perspective on what it takes to drive your business to a best of breed enterprise.
Are you ready to declare war?
Mark Stevens is CEO of management and marketing firm MSCO, a popular media commentator, and author of several bestselling business books including King Icahn and his latest, "Your Company Sucks: It's Time to Declare War on Yourself".
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