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3 Common Challenges Business Leaders and Their Team Experience

choose-the-right-direction-1536336_1920It is all about Peaks, Valleys and Detours

I am privileged to be able to meet with business leaders, their teams and professionals. I regularly hear about the peaks, valleys and detours (otherwise known as the good, the bad and the unexpected) that take place on the road to success. Whatever the stories, the top three things business leaders and their teams say when they experience challenges are: I’m stuck; I’ve lost focus; I lack direction.

I’m Stuck

A business leader in the technology industry recently confided that they felt stuck in their business. Their metaphor, being trapped in a box with all the flaps tightly closed and no way out. They then paused and said they’d never expressed it that way before and that the honesty felt good. It was a moment of truth.

Feeling stuck in your business is not unusual, especially when there is so much going on—so many decisions to be made. It’s normal. Sometimes a business has too much opportunity or not enough. Perhaps your company is experiencing rapid growth and things are changing too quickly, or maybe you are over extended with too much risk. Maybe your personnel turnover is too high. Or the external market has changed around you. You could even be suffering from poor leadership, management or resource capabilities.

Related Article: 7 Steps to Kick-Start Your Strategic Planning Process

The important thing is what you do about it—how you move forward, the actions you take to get unstuck. The key is to look at the sense of being stuck as a business opportunity.

I’ve Lost Focus

Another thing that often happens when challenges set in is that we lose our focus. It happens to the best of us. From the time we’re kids and into adulthood we’re told we need to focus if we want to be successful, but we’re rarely told what “to focus” actually means or how to achieve it. I believe that it isn’t until we lose something of importance that we truly understand what focus means. That is a powerful insight.

I was asked to facilitate a strategic planning process for a company in the transportation industry over a six month period. My job was to help them understand what they needed to focus on for their business to reach the next level. As part of that process I always do pre-work, which in this case was having one-to-one private meetings with the senior management team and the company representatives.

In one such meeting, the president revealed that his company had just lost a large contract, one that amounted to nearly a third of their revenue. What’s more, he didn’t know why. He felt as if he’d really lost focus in his business. The state of having a clear visual definition of his business was missing, and he hadn’t been paying enough attention to the core of his business and that client in particular. He’d taken the contract for granted and allowed himself and his team to get distracted by other things when they should have been focusing on ensuring that one of their largest accounts was maintained and grown. That loss really shook the company. They weren’t sure what they were going to do, how to make up this major loss. In this case the president decided to bring his team together, senior managers and professional team members to discuss the issue, look at the reality, make some tough decisions, and work towards rectifying the situation with a changed market and organic growth emphasis. This did mean growth through strategic acquisition and the redevelopment of components of their management team. It took two years to regain the original loss through establishing a new focus.

I Lack Direction

Another client, an oil and gas service company had experienced rapid growth. They’d started out in the president’s home and ten years later they numbered over 150 people. Their expansion happened so quickly, in fact, that they’d had no time to standardize their processes. People felt as if they were tripping over one another and no one was clear where the business was going. So much opportunity happening so fast resulted in creating an unstable business environment and a lack of clarity. They needed a direction.

Related Information: Building a Strategic and Implementation Plan for Your Business

As the president and I worked together, we decided to engage a representative team from the organization to help identify the issues and find ways to rectify their challenges. We used an approach that provided clear boundaries, one that created a clear picture of their present situation and their preferred future state. This, in turn, provided much needed clarity. Afterwards, the team was able to identify that which they could realistically do to make concrete improvements in their organization. An action plan was developed to help the organization make the adjustments needed to move forward.

My dad, a successful entrepreneur, used to tell me when I was a boy, whatever you can conceive you can achieve. If you can see it in your mind, you can make it happen.Clarity is determining exactly what results you want to achieve, when you want to achieve them, and taking action to make it happen.

The successful warrior is the average person, with laser-like focus. Bruce Lee Click To Tweet

Final Thoughts

This blog post is a bit of a cheat as it is an edited excerpt from my book, S.E.T. for Success, a roadmap to transform your business. I felt inclined to share this section of my book because these three issues recently showed themselves with another client I have worked with and we needed to figure out what they were going to do. In each one of these cases we had to apply an approach to define the problem, find solutions, leverage opportunities, create a plan and implement.

I think that no matter where you are in your business or in what way you plan to move forward, it is important that you have an approach to follow. This will help you add discipline to your planning endeavours and make it easier for you and your people to successfully follow through. With the right approach and model in place, you’ll find your leadership team able to make much better business decisions, your business able to move forward, and your people able to produce concrete, measureable results.

I believe it is important you take a structured approach and engage people to transform your business through addressing issues, creating a strategy and a roadmap, and implementation plan that can be executed on by organization. If anything to get everyone going in the same direction.

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