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Get in the Boat or Take the Train!

Why do turnarounds fail? 

There are lots of reasons, but one stands out above the rest to me.

Leaders don't want to rock the boat. They're afraid to make the tough, unpopular calls that change often requires. Leaders don't want to lose their followers, or be unpopular, or make the wrong move - so they don't make the tough choices.

Case in Point.   

In every turnaround, there are executives and employees hanging onto the way we've always done it. That's OK for a while; it takes time to get everyone into the new boat, to change course and transform the business. But, at some point in time - and preferably sooner rather than later, everyone has to get into the boat.The Same Boat.   Or they need to take another train. 

Continued promotion of the way it's always been against the new direction is one of the major reasons turnarounds fail. Business is not a democracy, where everyone gets a vote and opinions are given equal rank. Dissension spreads like a virus, and is just as destructive. Still, you'd be surprised just how few CEOs will step up and remove that virus. The reasons?

  • He's a great guy. I'm sure he is. But if he's negating your strategy for change, then it doesn't matter how nice or great he is. He either needs to change his stance or find another company where he can keep that stance while you move forward. Niceness is not an excuse for someone dissing your business decisions. That's insubordination (after a point) and it breeds issues.
  • She's been here since the beginning. Maybe that's part of the problem. Especially if you're steering a new course. If she's a proponent of the status quo because it's known and comfortable then maybe it's time for a big change.Just because someone has longevity doesn't mean they get to misbehave and stir up dissent in the ranks.
  • We'll lose people if he leaves. Maybe that's a good thing?  If all those people are as resistant  to changing course - then maybe they need to catch that other train so you can move forward. If people can't support the direction of the company and are openly negative about it,  they're distracting and sucking your momentum - internally and probably externally as well. As I always remind my clients - no one is indispensable.

Then there's the unspoken excuse. The leader doesn't want to be seen as the bad guy. Many execs don't want to be the heavy, more than you'd suspect. CEO's seem to thrive in two extremes; being cantankerous, obnoxious and heavy handed, or being the nice guy who takes care of everyone and responds to all sides of the argument.

Popularity is not part of a CEO's job description - at least not in most businesses. There's a middle ground between these two extremes, and more executives in troubled companies need to take it.  

Be a leader and make your decision. Listen to all the input, take the feedback and then decide on a strategy. That's why you get the big be a leader and make the tough calls.

Then, if your staff doesn't get in the boat with you, Rock that Boat. Hand them a pink ticket to another boat or train. You may lose a few folks in the process, and they will most likely say bad things about you.

Get a thicker skin and step up. You'll give your business the chance to fly and be profitable again. And that's a lot more important than winning that popularity contest, now isn't it? 

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Rebel Brown

Rebel Brown guides organizations and individuals to harness the power of their minds to step into their ultimate potential. A masterful agent of change, for over 25 years Rebel Brown has inspired, coached and empowered individuals and businesses to unstoppable performance and results. As a recognized market strategist and turnaround expert, Rebel guided over 200 global organizations to step beyond their status quo perspectives to create profitable market advantage. She also worked with US and European venture firms to successfully fund and launch their portfolios. She also ran a consulting practice in Paris for three years, working with European clients. Fascinated by the power of our human minds to limit ourselves and our business results, she began her study of neural science. Her core question was simple. What could we do if we had no limits? Today, she brings the power of neuroscience to business (NeuroBusiness),fueling limitless thinking that drives powerful bottom line growth for her executive and corporate clients. Rebel’s work has been featured in media including First Business TV, Forbes, Inc, Entrepreneur, Business Insider and Business Week. She is a Vistage International speaker and workshop leader as well as NSA speaker. She’s also been named one of the Top 100 Women in Computing. Rebel is also the founder and director of the Unstoppable U Foundation, a non-profit program committed to guiding kids to know that they are born to be Unstoppable!