Managed Growth

August 24, 2010

While every business owner seeks to positively advance their company, there exists a fine line between growing and taxing an organization.

2010 has been an incredible year for Dover Realty Advisors – since last December, we have experienced a 50% growth in our group, including expansion through our recently added Cincinnati Regional Office. Our goal of growth into the multifamily markets of Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky has begun to be realized. Adding properties in Lexington and Louisville, Kentucky will be next on our horizon. Yet, despite the continued demand for our services, we are proceeding with caution, moving forward.

The key to success in this economic realm remains treading carefully; pausing for reflection and analysis even when things appear to be going “great guns” – in particular when it comes to people. For example, sometimes you need to take a look at utilizing contract employees and outsourcing particular functions. This approach serves to make sure your in-house staff does not become too stretched while keeping overhead in check. It also protects you should the need for right sizing come about.

Many companies are moving forward in this way with an eye in particular on how healthcare reform will affect operations beginning next January (2011). I’ve read the 2,000 page Act and am particularly concerned. The government says companies will be able to keep their health insurance plans but the Act says otherwise. Instead, with new dictates in place, many plans could go away and companies and their employees could find themselves faced with less desirable options – from both a benefits and cost standpoint.

The possible ramifications are not pleasant with resulting uncertainties sure to influence many companies to at least temporarily shelve thoughts of growth, even of the well-managed variety, for a more conservative wait and see approach.

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EQ (Emotional Intelligence) vs. I.Q.

August 11, 2010

I am an avid reader – in particular when it comes to books on business philosophy and leadership.  Jack Welch wrote the book (actually several) on both.  Another outstanding author that delves into this genre is Robert Cooper, Ph.D., with “Executive EQ” and is worth a closer look.

Wikipedia describes “EQ” (Emotional Intelligence) as: “The ability, capacity, or skill to identify, assess, manage and control the emotions of one’s self, of others and of groups.” Studies have shown that incredibly intelligent people are quite often not successful in their personal lives nor, this book demonstrates, in business.  They are lacking, this theory postulates, in ‘EQ.”

Some have applied this theorem to the Obama administration and the failings of many of his Cabinet members.  They are “book smart” but, their detractors would say, perhaps too academic and, as such, lacking in the ability to focus and “see the forest through the trees” when tasked with effectively problem solving.

I have found over the years that most problems don’t require an overly sophisticated approach or thought process, which can often lead to “analysis paralysis.” Rather, great common sense and good judgment (both a function of innate emotion rather than high I.Q intelligence) lead to more efficient and effective problem solving and decision-making.

All of that said, brilliant minds are most adept at a specific type of problem solving; they are exactly who you want around when you are faced with a major financial catastrophe. When it comes to numbers, derivatives, trading assets and the like, their skills and talents shine most brightly.

As an effective manager, then, are you matching the skill sets of your people to the tasks to which they are most suited for?


Gulf catastrophe exposes rudderless leadership

July 6, 2010

It is very easy to jump on the popular bandwagon and attack those in charge of the BP disaster, yet I feel it is important to examine (and hopefully learn from) the lack of leadership occurring on many different fronts – from the middle of the Gulf to corporate offices in England to the White House.

Who, exactly, is in charge here?

While the roots of the problem may go back to previous administrations and the Department of the Interior, President Obama and BP officials have totally dropped the ball in their response and (mis)handling of the situation from Day One.

It took far too long for this crisis to become a priority for the administration. BP’s initial communications efforts were no better with (now) outgoing CEO Tony Hayward spewing forth a series of unfortunate and inappropriate sound bites (remember the ‘it’s a big ocean’ quote)?

And, unfortunately, amid growing public discord and pressure, when the president did finally get involved, his lack of executive managerial or leadership experience in handling a crisis of this magnitude was sorely evident. President Obama is smart, compelling and, at times, a brilliant orator. Here, however, he was too scripted, too academic and too short on practical problem solving experience.

In good times and especially in bad, those in “command” have to be immediately visible and tangibly demonstrate they are 100% focused on the task at hand. In crisis situations this means assessment, determining answers and, ultimately, decisive and corrective action.

In the Gulf, we need rolled up sleeves (and pant legs), steely determination and true solutions.  In short, we need leadership. Instead, it remains in short supply.


Leadership

December 10, 2009

There have been so many books written about leadership. For me, leadership has always been too broadly defined. Some people confuse strong management skills with being an effective leader. I think you can be a strong manager without being a strong leader. I always describe two managers, both very proficient in their work, but one has a positive sphere of influence and not only makes people around them better but creates future leaders. In sports, you could look to Bill Walsh, Tom Landry or Dean Smith. In business, Jack Welch comes to mind.

Politics is another story. Is someone a good leader because many people follow? Does a so-called political leader make those around better at what they do? I do not know a political leader who has helped me grow my business, become more innovative or shown me a different way of operating. Politicians aren’t leaders in the true sense of the word, because as public servants their role is to serve all of us. Politicians have it easy. They use other people’s money to make decisions that have very little impact on their own lives. The day a politician puts up their own money and risks losing their entire net worth over a critical decision or vote then maybe we can place them in the same realm as real leaders.

Remember Jim Jones, the founder and leader of the People’s Temple, who lead his followers into committing suicide by drinking cyanide-laced Flavor-Aid. Nine Hundred and Twelve of Jones’ followers died. So when you hear the expression: “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid,” remember where it emanated. Just because people follow you doesn’t make you a good leader.

In conclusion, a real leader puts it all on the line, has no place to hide and doesn’t have spin doctors to make a bad decision look good.

– Terry Schwartz