Provocative Propositions

In the hyperactive and challenging world in which we all live, it is becoming harder and harder for business leaders to find time to read, reflect and gain insight from the many valuable sources at our disposal.

In "Provocative Propositions", The Beacon Group attempts to fill that void by offering our opinion, often rather pointed, on a wide array of issues we believe are relevant to leading a modern organization.

The articles are catalogued into 12 categories so you can quickly and easily find a topic of particular interest. We then offer three easy steps under the heading "In Our Opinion" to help business leaders take action on the key themes.

Simply click on the category and read away.

Staying Focused
If you're a CEO, there's likely a laundry list of challenges you can name from the top of your head. Strategic decisions, product launches, getting the attention of consumers through marketing, competition and dealing with a dynamic market environment.

What else?

Volatile commodity prices, talent shortages... and so much more.

That's not counting the more recent tsunami of bad news on the economy.

Who is anyone to tell you "itís not a complicated job"?!

The Fact is being a CEO or any leader for that matter is challenging, but the basic framework of good leadership is not complicated.

The Problem is more often than not, it is the leaders themselves that overcomplicate situations. Leaders get sidetracked by minutia details, focus nearly exclusively on their personal career goals, avoid crucial confrontations and seek to compromise, when compromises shouldn't be made.

The Outcome is a leader that may soon find himself lost in challenges, confused and overwhelmed... worst of all: afraid to make the decisions that count.

The Solution is to confront the temptations of a CEO. There are five of them, and succumbing to just one diminishes the ability of a leader to lead effectively by creating compromises and half-baked responses to real challenges.

Your best day

What's been your best day in your career so far?

For Andrew O'Brien, the fictional CEO of Trinity Systems in Patrick Lencioni book "The Five Temptations of a CEO" , it was the day he got promoted to CEO.

For many readers - CEO or not - a promotion may have been your proudest day.

In that case, you've fallen into the first temptation of being a CEO: the temptation to build your career over actually accomplishing anything for your organization.

Why wouldn't accomplishing a goal or a project that built your organization be a more significant event in your career? Why is it that many leaders cannot truly think of accomplishing an organizational goal as synonymous with career growth?

Patch up

Too often a simple problem exists and a CEO avoids facing this problem.

CEO Andrew faces the situation of an underperforming marketing head. Marketing was not generating sufficient leads and the advertising campaigns were unremarkable.

In the end, Andrew decided to fire his marketing head. Andrew claims he made a tough decision. The marketing head was a good friend and a confidant.

Tough decision, right?

But for 12 months Andrew avoided confronting the guy and telling him directly that his job may be at stake. Andrew vaguely brought up issues with lead generation and uninspiring ads. He didn't want to lose a friend or be unpopular. While it may appear that in the end Andrew made a tough choice by firing the marketing head - really all he did was wash himself of the situation. No guidance was provided, no corrective measures were offered. In fact, how involved did Andrew really get in this problem? After all, being the CEO, he is the manager of every individual on his leadership team.

Similarly, the temptation of many CEO's is to avoid confronting issues that may cause them to lose popularity among their co-workers or close corporate friends - at the expense of performance.

There are three more temptations, but we won't spoil the surprise here...

In Our Opinion
The Beacon Group's Advice for ensuring that all managers do not fall for these same temptations

Temptations as principles - Turn the temptations to avoid into corporate principles. Encourage confronting simple issues and confronting them properly. Why not make these part of a performance evaluation template for leaders? How often did they confront issues? How decisively did they make decisions?

Avoid detail, but don't avoid being involved - This is the classic problem for leaders. You can't be sidetracked by details that are not relevant to getting something accomplished as quickly as possible. However, it is a problem to avoid situations entirely much like Andrew avoided confronting his marketing head about problems with his work.

Accept Mistakes - In some organizations, managers and leaders fail to act because they are afraid of the consequences. Any decision is better than no decision. In order to make this a regular practice among your employees you need to tolerate mistakes to a certain degree and emphasize decisiveness.
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