Being ruthless is a key to being a good leader. There are people who truly believe this statement. Maybe this is true when one has leverage, but probably not in today’s (hopefully post-COVID) world, when supply chains are in disruption and companies are finding it more difficult than ever to retain talent. Look no further than the commentary regarding the “Great Resignation” discussions. Knowing when to press, coddle, push, pull, and maybe most importantly, to pause and catch a breath, is critical.
Consider recent observations:
- Charlie Perer recently authored an article titled Unintended Consequences of Bank ABL Becoming a Product Versus a Business for ABL Advisor. Lending life couldn’t be more competitive, not only with the wide-spread availability of lenders’ dollars, but also with equity markets being so flush with cash. Rarely has there been a better time for a lender to stand out and show their creativity – looking beyond the mainstream to show their value. The cliché that everybody’s money is green, will likely continue to hold true, so one of the most important traits in the course of a turnaround is to have a creative lender. A lender that has seen and been through a situation when a company moves sideways, hits a bump in the road and needs some additional nurturing and flexibility to return to its appropriate course.
- Recently EisnerAmper was engaged in a bankruptcy assignment in a behavioral health organization, where 97 percent of the jobs were preserved in a bankruptcy case and none of the 10,000+ undeserved constituencies of this state had any services interrupted. There are other details, but I am sure you get the concept. While in all Chapter 11 cases this would be considered a success, there always seems to be a growing disparity with situations such as this – where there are real life and death pressures and realities, and others where stakeholders perceive financial gain and losses as life and death. Despite the arguable success, certain constituencies were still unhappy.
- A “professional” more than once told me that he/she loves to start their day by seeing whose day they can make miserable. One of the most fascinating (in a good way) and toughest workout lenders I ever worked with, once stated to me, “Rob, you are like a quarterback; when you win you receive too much credit; when you lose you receive too much blame; but once you’re in the game we don’t care much about the circumstances before you arrived.” Understanding what is truly important, verses servicing an agenda will always be a differentiating factor.
- Perspective enables a person to step back and consider their surroundings to make excellent judgements. There is no time when its more critical to do this than when the pressure is on. As a restructuring officer and turnaround consultant, our stakeholders are looking for us to catch all the grenades as they are coming in and toss them out before they explode. Taking the time to consider and ponder, sets the foundation for good judgement. Because if that is ever lost, it may never be recovered.
- Think about a Special Purpose Acquisition Corporation (“SPAC”). Approximately 3 years ago they were all the rage. A SPAC is essentially, an entity, and its founders/CEO go through a process to raise money. It is a total “trust me” situation. Accordingly, the stance is typically, “We don’t have targets, we really haven’t done due diligence. Just give us the money, we’ll keep you posted.” Almost like a first-in-first out situation where early entrants made money. But more recently investors have returned to their senses, looking for more definitive answers before writing a check. SPACs, even those started by highly visible personalities and successful investors, have more recently been withdrawn at an extremely high rate.
- Perspective enables us to put excellent teams together, carefully balancing what each member does well and to ensure complimentary skill sets, balance strengths and weaknesses are understood. Excellent teams have the best combination of leaders, finders, minders, and grinders. I was recently at a conference where there was a reception honoring some industries and trade group’s incoming leaders. A particular attorney was not invited to the reception, which I have no doubt was an accidental oversight. Instead of making a big deal about it which he certainly could have done or worked an end-around to procure an invitation, he took it in stride in his normal understated and always professional manner. Humility in today’s world is more often than not in the minority. What a shame for all of us.
- We all attend versions of “pipeline calls” outlining the activities within departments. With the current state of in-person meetings in flux, when running an organization in the new world order, these communications are more important than ever. Increasingly, when attending these calls people seem to want to let everyone know how busy they are. But what is lost at times is understanding the difference between being busy and being productive. It is important not only to be cognizant of the difference, but also to make sure the stakeholders are also aware of this difference. And yes, sometimes they need to be called out on it.
2023 – What to Expect and Hope for Going Forward
Find something to be positive about, it permeates and will serve everybody well.
Maya Angelou the great humanitarian said, “I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never (ever) forget how you made them feel.”
Ours is a world where we tend to run toward the fire, not away. Without question, most recent trends would suggest the economy and world events are at a crossroads, so now more than ever it is important to find the light both in our professional and personal portfolios (i.e., lives). And make no mistake about it, your colleagues will feed off your light in both the positive and the negative sense. Utilizing a sports analogy, leaders always want the ball in clutch time, which does not mean they always make the shot, but they want to be in position with the ball in their hands. And most importantly, is if they miss the shot, they address others in a professional manner and want the ball again the next time the game is on the line.
My hope for all is to have a great summer and “always want the ball” for the next opportunity, because its coming.