Thursday, October 29, 2009

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Together

What's the difference between finger pointing and finger painting? While they each are childish activities, finger painting is not destructive. We all hear and read that one of the understandable reactions to this "temporary" economic reversal is a great deal of angst among those not already "downsized." The "am I next?" syndrome. How executives react to this angst is an excellent metric of their skill and value, and perhaps a pretty good indicator of whether or not the organization will "make it.".

A survival of the fittest (the sharp elbows and finger pointing) culture does much more than make life miserable for everyone (even for the perpetrator, unless he's been waiting in great anticipation for this inning of the game--because he's either nuts or a bad guy). This culture also greatly weakens the company's chances for survival, much less success, during and following the down cycle. If a pretty good I.Q. is, let's say 125, and you have six influential executives, you can have each of them firing away at the others, (in which case they all run a pretty good chance of incurring mortal wounds) or 750 I.Q. points in the aggregate trying to turn problems into opportunities for all.

A partner and I met with an institutional banker yesterday. He manages his firm's media portfolio and you can guess the kind of a year this has been for him. He actually was visiting with us to see if there was opportunity to grow with us. At one point I expressed if not sympathy, a sensitivity to how stressful his work must have been since this time last year.

"Actually," Tim said, "this has been a great year. Our boss preaches that it doesn't matter how we got here, we need to put our heads together to forge where we're going. Our teams have been strategizing and planning; everyone is wearing elbow pads, so no one has to wear body armor, and as a result we have a very sensible path to success."

How'd you like to work for his boss?

Look, it's okay to be concerned. But be concerned about the right stuff. You have clients and prospects who need your help more than ever. Whether it be to get through this period or make hay during this period, they need help. And if you are the one dedicated to providing it, you will, and an automatic by-product of that behavior will be that you have nothing to worry about.

Great Selling!
Serve Don't Sell
Love Your Work and Work Tirelessly

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  1. One of your best yet Bob. The message is so true yet, unfortunately, it's rarely practiced consistently, even by those with the best of intentions.

  2. A favorite old saying mine: Adversity doesn't build character, it reveals it.