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January 23, 2019

Learning from the Shutdown

I generally never get political in any of my writings. Not only because I am wildly independent, but it is something that people can get extremely passionate about to a point of a deep and unhealthy divide. However, with this shutdown, there are lessons in leadership and business we would be remiss to ignore.  Unfortunately, it’s not necessarily due to any great leadership on either side of the aisle. 

Leaders Rise Above

Great leaders rise above the fray. They figure out ways to come up with mutually agreeable outcomes and recognize the importance of compromise.  Rising above the fray also means recognizing the needs of the people you lead, and never leveraging or sacrificing their basic needs, especially those who are most vulnerable, in order to advance your own agenda. Great leaders show the ability to think through and derive creative solutions to the most complex and pressing issues. It takes maturity, thoughtfulness, and serious consideration to accomplish an end that is agreeable to all sides.

“Why” matters

Understanding “why” a stance is taken or decision is made is instrumental to capturing the support of those around you. This is not a marketing blitz or keywords that are repeated in social media postings and speeches. This is a concise and easily understood rationale. We have seen leaders on both sides of the aisle draw hardlines on issues, flip their opinions, and give wildly conflicting speeches over periods of time. Great leaders are genuine; however sometimes not consistent. This is because conditions change and those conditions surrounding an issue may impact the stance or decision.  When that happens, the great leaders are able to quickly articulate “why” because they recognize that attaining understanding from their people will help lead them down the same path.

Cash is still King

Cash is critical to your organization. It puts time and decision making on your side. While federal contracting is a lucrative industry, businesses, especially small businesses, invest heavily on growth and attracting the brightest talent. With significant competing resources and substantive contract backlogs, cash is not always the priority.  However, with low-price awards and budget issues continuing, shutdowns becoming an acceptable practice, and the need to give your growing business time and flexibility, cash is critical.  Manage cashflow closely and establish cash-on-hand. Your business, your employees, and your customers deserve it.

Growth is #1

There is an unfortunate reality in business. It’s that growth is most important. I have found the measure of importance to be directly related to the audience of the moment. If the events of the past several days and weeks fail to highlight how and why growing your business is most important, I’m not sure what will. Please do not confuse this statement with a relegation of other areas such as employees, quality, customer service, performance etc., but simply a reality that no business is stationary – a business is either growing or declining. A growing business is able to weather the storm more effectively. It has options, it has increases in revenue and profits, and it affords a leadership team the time to make the best decisions. It is a business with wind at its back, confidence in the market and an “abundance” mentality.  A business that is not winning reacts differently out of negative pressure. Cuts become their only action and a regular occurrence.  They lead through a “scarcity” mentality.

Even amidst the frustration of the shutdown and its impact, sales and business development must be led with bullish confidence. This will, indeed, exercise your mental toughness as a leader.

While it would be nice to be able to write a blog lauding the choices of our national leadership that is just not where we are today.  But there are positive lessons we can take away for ourselves. 

All the best to those adversely affected by the shutdown. You are not alone, and we will all come out the other side.

InquisIT