After 45 years in business, In-Common Laboratories in 2012 was suffering from a revolving door that no company wants to face: three CEOs in three years. Many challenging issues precipitated a 2010 board decision to find a new CEO for the not-for-profit provider of medical laboratory tests. In 2011, the board realized it hired the wrong CEO (No. 2) for a variety of reasons, including precipitous losses. But it wasn’t until the third CEO, Kris Bailey, showed up in 2012 that the board realized the problems ran much deeper: a “Mother May I” culture that had turned the top team into powerless managers whose ingenuity was running on cruise control.
At the end of every economic growth cycle, midsized companies tend to invest heavily in sales and marketing to steal market share. They realize that a no-longer growing market won’t raise all boats, including their own. Yet increasing sales and marketing may actually not be the best way to grow in these times. Making big efficiency gains may be far better.
Forcing up-and-coming leaders to sink or swim in the pool of real experience is one way to develop future executive team members. It’s also a sure-fire method to drown some managers who have real potential. There are far better ways to develop managers than by foisting a big and unfamiliar organizational problem on them.
When companies go through times of change—whether acquisition, divestiture, leadership change, sales slump or competitive shocks—employees worry, then react, often with little input from management. When change is impending, the CEO (or top-most leader) ought to pull the leadership team together to share the news, discuss what the employees’ concerns might be, then decide on the appropriate message to be conveyed.
Your company may be suffering from a genuine talent shortage. It may be suffering from a flawed hiring process. It may be one or the other or even both, but the end result will be the same: Companies that can’t find creative ways to find the employees they need can’t grow. Business leaders who can win the talent war (and it is a war) will be able to say yes to new business opportunities while their talent-strapped competition will have to walk away.
Rob interviewed more than 100 business leaders in researching his newest book, and now the tables have been turned. In this latest issue of The CEO Insomnia Factor, Bob Morris interviews Rob in his inimitable get-deep personal style. We take a look under the hood at how the book came into being and discuss what’s different for CEOs today. We look at leadership, change-making, growth and the “7 Silent Growth Killers” that were synthesized from Rob’s research.
Most midsized company leaders want their businesses to become mighty growth machines. Unfortunately, sometimes that growth slows, stops, or goes the other way, and their leaders don’t know why. Is it the market? Is it the product? Is it the leadership team? Is it something he or she has done wrong – an ill-conceived deal; an unrealistic strategy?