Last night I did a radio interview (that I’ll post when the podcast becomes available), and I was asked a question that I thought I’d share my answer to with you here.
I was asked about my guiding principle – one that helps me lead my firm and other companies that hire me as their CEO.
My Guiding Principle: Be Proactive, Not Reactive.
I live by this motto, give speeches about it, and I’ve mentioned it here before.
All businesses have problems. Nothing goes as you expect it to. But if you’re proactive in your leadership, decision making and planning then you’ll have the tools, people, and ideas in place to handle much of what comes at you.
On the contrary, if you’re constantly reacting to everything, you’ll never get your feet underneath you long enough to resolve your problems.
I’ve also found that honest communication goes a long way. People try to lead secretly, and that doesn’t work. Yes, leaders run businesses, not committees, but if leaders are honest with those involved, especially key stakeholders like boards, banks and creditors, there is a much greater chance for success.
Ra Ra Ra!!!
My initial turnaround success was a Chapter 11 restructuring at a company called Cheerleader Supply, a $50+ Million revenue business with over 1000 employees. As their name suggests, they made cheerleading uniforms, pompoms, etc., and they sent kids to summer camp to learn how to become cheerleaders.
It was the spirit of Cheerleader Supply that helped get it through Chapter 11 restructuring, and I learned a serious lesson about attitude from them.
Think about football games. When your team is down, the cheerleaders cheer harder – they don’t get dejected. Seeing that attitude – embodied by everyone at Cheerleading Supply – inspired me and allowed me to be the best catalyst for big change that I could be and ultimately brought that company through Chapter 11.
I’ve applied that attitude to everything going forward. To this day I still have a pompom in my office reminding me of this original successful turnaround and the importance of cheering harder and having the right attitude even when things seem their darkest.
What You Can Do
I encourage you to go forward with this attitude, which goes hand and hand with being proactive instead of reactive.
The proactive leader is cheering constantly for his company by saying that nothing is going to stop it from being successful – especially not his own complacency when it seems like he’s up by four touchdowns and can just coast (are we good with the football metaphors?).
Learn from the cheerleaders and be a proactive leader.
What’s your guiding principle? How do you think these notions can help you in your life and business?