As a CEO, I took drastic measures to help my executives understand that to double the size of our company in five years would require revolutionary thinking and extreme commitment and dedication.
First I asked myself, “ Am I communicating my ideas clearly so my people understand what I’m asking of them?” When I realized the answer might be no, I used a technique called the Painted Picture to align my vision with theirs. Though I had been explaining my vision to them for some time, it wasn’t until I put it in writing and shared it with them that they finally understood what I was saying and where we needed to go.
Next I considered how far I needed to go to shake up the status quo by stretching the mindset of my leaders. Having worked with my senior team for over a decade, I had a good grasp on where each of them needed to elevate their thinking and a few ideas about how to get them there.
Thirdly, I as the CEO had to step out of my own comfort zone and develop a partnership with a training company that could grasp my vision, my ideas for stretching the executives, and deliver the training in a non-cookie-cutter approach. When people are put in uncomfortable situations, they become vulnerable and that’s where trust begins.
The fourth step which is crucial in attaining any goal is to assure leaders are not just interested, but fully committed to the mission. I knew the commitment had to start from the top and therefore I trained side-by-side with them during the entire two-year training journey. I wore costumes, climbed mountains, built playgrounds in remote Central American countries and demonstrated that together we were all a team.
As the fifth and final step, the most drastic measure I took was to interchange leadership roles. Because I had the opportunity to work with each of them for over a decade and then trained with them for over two years, I was able to clearly see their strengths and align them with positions that were better suited to their skills.
It is critical in today’s competitive landscape that CEOs take drastic steps to shake up their people and their organizations in order to stay cutting edge. As a result of my own drastic tactics over the past two years, my company is better positioned to embrace what the future may hold.
As a result of these drastic measures, we have built a tremendous amount of trust among our team and have revolutionized our thinking as an organization. This will serve us well as we tackle the obstacles we will encounter on our way to doubling our business.
Frank Granara and Lorraine Grubbs are co-authors of “Beyond the Executive Comfort Zone: Outrageous Tactics to Ignite Individual Performance” (www.executivecomfortzone.com). Granara is CEO of General Insulation Co. and has a bachelor’s degree in business from Northeastern University. Grubbs is president of the consulting firm Lessons in Loyalty. As a former 15-year executive with Southwest Airlines, she takes principles and practices she helped develop to companies that strive for better employee engagement and loyalty.