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Monday, 21 February 2011 16:43

Get out of the way

Jeff Ready learned a valuable lesson about overcoming failure when he was 16 and had his first car accident.

“I was terrified of driving after that,” Ready says. “But the next day, my dad filled up the other car with gas and told me to go drive it until it was empty. The lesson was, ‘You screwed up, but too bad. Move on and get back to work.’”

Ready is not quite as blunt with his employees at Scale Computing, but the idea is the same. He wants them to always know that if they make a mistake in the pursuit of a worthy goal, he’s not going to jump all over them if it doesn’t work out.

“I would rather see people trying things and screwing it up than not trying things at all,” Ready says.

It’s an approach that has helped Scale grow quickly and become a solid presence in the data storage industry.

“Mistakes are a sign of progress,” says Ready, the company’s founder and CEO. “You can always do what you’ve always done and make very few mistakes. But if you’re going to go out there and advance, do something new, take some risks, there will be mistakes.”

Fear of mistakes leads to a situation where every decision is agonized over through a series of committees and meetings, without ever taking action.

“So you end up taking very few risks and making very few mistakes but also making very little progress,” Ready says.

In order to make progress, your primary function needs to be to knock down barriers that get in the way of your team’s ability to do its job. Beyond that, you need to stay out of the way and let them do what you hired them to do.

“Pick something that is a significant chunk of responsibility,” Ready says. “Take something that is meaningful, something that you as the CEO feel personally responsible for, something you would be concerned to give to somebody else and give it away. Just do it.

“Pick somebody in the organization that you feel is capable and give them full control of that. Your job is to knock down barriers that get in their way. But you are not going to dictate how they do it, when they do it, etc.”

When you insist on being in on every last decision your company makes and taking part in every key meeting that occurs, you place a limit as to how much your company can grow. That limit is your personal capacity to get things done.

Ready uses the example of his company’s search for partners to illustrate his point.

“We sell data storage,” Ready says. “We’ve been looking at partnering with key companies in networking and switching to bundle products with us. A company like us is probably going to look at partnering with a much larger organization.”

A micromanager would have no choice but to take the lead on this kind of initiative out of fear that his team would screw it up.

“I’m the CEO, therefore I’m going to go out there and run this initiative,” Ready says. “The problem is, your business marches on while you’re jerking around with this other thing. You can’t juggle all of the tasks required for what you’re already doing plus all the new stuff. If you think about the whole top-down approach, you inherently have a situation where your ability as an organization to grow and expand is limited by your own capacity to handle these things.”

You may be surprised by the results when you let someone else take the lead on a project.

“They’re probably not going to screw it up any differently than you were going to,” Ready says. “You just have to start somewhere. It’s like ripping the Band-Aid off.”

How to reach: Scale Computing, (877) 722-5359 or www.scalecomputing.com

Study your successes

It’s probably in the first chapter of any leadership handbook. It’s a prevalent theme in the main story on this page. But Jeff Ready says it takes more than just learning from mistakes to be successful.

“The greater lessons can come from trying to learn from your successes and trying to analyze, what was it about that success that made it successful?” Ready says. “The natural tendency is if something works, you just keep doing it. That makes sense. But is there room for improvement within that particular process?”

If you have a successful marketing program, was it the message that stood out or the medium you used to transmit that message?

“Let’s say you believe that it was the message of that ad that was effective,” Ready says. “Then the risk you might take is to take that message and apply it in a different venue. Maybe it was a print ad that worked and you’re going to take it and apply that same messaging online or in a telemarketing application. If that fails and you’ve got this culture, it made perfect sense to try it. The failure is not that big a deal. We know it works in print, but it doesn’t work in telemarketing, so we’re going to try something else.”

Monday, 21 February 2011 16:29

Riding shotgun

Tony Reisz wasn’t facing a company on the brink of ruin or severe financial issues. He was facing something much worse: apathy.

“It was our own internal culture and leadership,” says Reisz, the president and CEO of 500-employee Ontario Systems LLC. “What became blatantly obvious to me was the culture and leadership had created a limitation to growth. The culture was the lifestyle business type of culture. ‘We’re comfortable. Why do we need to grow? We have investors, but so what. They’re making money. How much money do you really need to make?’ Leadership had allowed that culture to take place.”

Ontario provides software to collection agencies and hospitals to help them collect their bad debt. The company had some nice products that customers were interested in buying, but sales had hit a plateau. The effort to continue developing new products and technology just wasn’t what it once had been.

“This had been a pretty successful company, 30 years in business, that had reached the medium-sized level but had stagnated from a growth perspective,” Reisz says. “Solid customer base, good product suite but had literally stagnated. I had a huge challenge ahead of me. One was to convince the organization that growth was a good thing and not a bad thing. Two, really reposition the entire company to put it on a growth attitude.”

The economy had begun to spiral into what would become a deep global recession. Reisz knew this presented an opportunity for Ontario as companies would be stepping up their debt collection efforts and would need software to do it.

He just needed to show his people the potential they had and weed out the elements that had caused the company to stagnate. So he decided to begin by showing them a wet diaper.

Demonstrate the problem

OK, so he didn’t really show them a wet diaper. But this metaphor, which came from the studies of Dr. Behnam Tabrizi at Stanford University, seemed like a good place to begin to convince everyone at Ontario that they had a problem.

“It’s very visual, and it certainly is a great representation,” Reisz says. “You have to put somebody in a position where they recognize that they’re not comfortable. You have to change. In order to do that, you have to create that wet diaper so somebody absolutely has to change.”

Reisz got the attention of his staff by making it clear that at that moment, no one’s job was considered safe.

“We made it really clear at the beginning of this that no one in the company had a right to a job,” Reisz says. “We were going to be evaluating them over the next 90 days. Their leadership, their character, their results, their performance. We were going to be reorganizing the business based on the new strategy and based on what we learned from them during that 90-day period of time. That was going to determine where they were going to be placed in the new organization.

“So for them, it was also a tryout. You’d be surprised how easy it was for people who normally were adversaries to find a way to work together, because they had a common goal. They knew they were being evaluated.”

It’s not just about creating fear. You can’t just get up and talk about the need for change without figuring out what needs to change. If you don’t give your people a chance to be part of the effort to make that change happen, you’re not going to accomplish anything.

So Reisz took 50 people from the roughly 600 employees in the company at the time and developed teams to analyze all aspects of company operation.

“I empowered them to diagnose the patient,” Reisz says. “I empowered the teams to come up with the plan. I empowered them to create the actual details of how we were going to accomplish it. I met every week with them to make sure that we were removing obstacles from the way and that they were making progress. What I wasn’t doing was impeding them or micromanaging them about what I thought about the data they were gathering.”

It has to be that way in order for it to work. You can get the ball rolling on change and explain the need for it. But you can’t make it happen on your own.

“I’m responsible and accountable for everything,” Reisz says. “The way that I accomplish it is I delegate very significant portions of that to people who are really on top of it to do that portion of the job. Otherwise, I can’t be successful. If you’re going to be a big company, a growth company, you can’t do it all alone. It’s not possible.”

Get people involved

Reisz was confident that Ontario Systems had the potential to be a successful and dynamic company. But he needed to put his people in a position where they could help him capitalize on that potential.

“We gave everyone the opportunity to not only understand the strategy but to know exactly what their role was in the execution of that strategy,” Reisz says. “It wasn’t me who walked in and said, ‘Here’s what we’re going to do.’ My job was to guide that. But they needed to be bought in to the process. They know the company better than anyone else. They are the agents for change. They are the ones that need to execute on that change. For them to own it and to say, ‘This is me. I put my name and thoughts and ideas into this,’ it becomes virtually impossible for someone not to execute on that change.”

These teams have to represent your vision for change.

“There were certain characteristics of leadership that we were looking for when we chose members to participate in this team,” Reisz says. “It wasn’t like we had everybody in the organization participating. We had an opportunity to really look at leadership and make some decisions of ‘OK, here’s the type of people we think we want.’

“Cross-functional teams looked at every facet of the business and came to a conclusion. Is this what we want to do? Do we want to be in this business? If we’re to be successful in this business, here’s exactly how we’re going to do it. And then creating the operational plan that comes out of that strategy in order for us to go back to the organization and execute on it.”

It’s critical that you put a time element on the work of these teams. You’re not micromanaging. But you are making it clear that they need to move swiftly in their work.

Reisz went with 30 days from the formation of the teams to the creation of a report.

“It forces people very quickly to get everything out on the table, because they have a deadline they have to reach together,” Reisz says.

The time element keeps people on the teams from playing the blame game or getting territorial about their own department.

“As the CEO, I was the ultimate change agent for the organization,” Reisz says. “I had a weekly meeting with each of the rapid response teams. They had to report out to me on their progress. So I was able to watch very quickly to see who was performing, who was staying in the territorial mode and who was thinking outside of the box.”

Make the tough call

At some point in a transformation, tough decisions need to be made. It’s at that point that many corporate transformations stall out, because the leader doesn’t have the nerve to follow through and make those tough decisions.

“You have to be the one who is not willing to let yourself go backward,” Reisz says. “You have to have the intestinal fortitude to stick to it when it gets tough.”

The tough time for Reisz came after the reports had been reviewed and analyzed, and it was determined that employees would need to be let go.

“As a byproduct of our new plan, I laid off a fair chunk of the organization,” Reisz says. “That in itself was the moment of truth. I had to make the tough decision. … For me to have believed that people were behind me at that point, I would have been kidding myself. That was a very tough, lonely time for me when I had to make that decision.”

However, as Reisz and his leadership team looked at the result of all the research that had been conducted by the cross-functional teams, he felt it was the right thing to do.

“We’re a 30-year-old company that has rebuilt itself into a company with new markets and a new growth attitude,” Reisz says. “The biggest transformation that we made was a talent transformation. The leadership and the talent we have in the organization today is fundamentally different from the talent we had in the company two years ago.”

Despite the positive changes, Reisz knew that there were and still are people in his company who did not agree with what he did.

“For the person who is gone, a decision has been made,” Reisz says. “For the person that stays, there hasn’t been a decision made yet. They have to make a personal decision. Is this what I want to do? Do I want to look at other options? Do I even have other options?”

Reisz conducted a number of employee surveys and shared the results with his people, even when those results did not reflect well on him personally.

“Here is a segment of the company that absolutely does not buy in to our strategy,” Reisz says. “We were very open about that, that we still have about 25 percent of the team that’s not on board with us. Here’s what we’re trying to do about that. It’s not calling people out, because you don’t know who they are and you’re not trying to find out who they are. It’s just being really transparent that we’re gaining momentum, but we still have people that are really skeptical.”

When you show yourself to be open in sharing the mood of your people, both good and bad, you increase your chances of eventually getting more support.

“By sharing those results as widely as we did, the peer pressure started to step up,” Reisz says. “When somebody started to hear somebody else at the watercooler who would be bad mouthing something or creating some rumor along the way, they would say, ‘Hey dude, what are you doing? We got stuff to do and don’t you be the one who is standing in the way of this.’ You create this kind of internal peer pressure when you’re transparent. People have an opportunity to police themselves. It’s a lot more effective than when you try to do it.”

As Reisz looks at his company, he sees a lot of progress. But it’s all about the diligence and the commitment to carry out the plan that makes the difference.

“A lot of people can lay out a great strategy or plan,” Reisz says. “But it takes a ton of everyday effort in order to make sure that you execute in order to overcome the obstacles that are going to be along the way.”

How to reach: Ontario Systems LLC, (800) 283-3227 or www.ontariosystems.com

The Reisz file

Tony Reisz

President and CEO

Ontario Systems LLC

Born: Owensboro, Ky.

Education: Bachelor of arts degree in business, University of Dayton

What was your very first job?

I was a paperboy for the Waukesha Freeman. There were two things that I had to do as a paperboy that were really important. It was a morning paper. So I had to get myself up, stuff the papers and deliver them. So it taught me a lot about responsibility.

But the second piece was it taught me a lot about how to deal with customers. I had customers who would complain that I put the newspaper in a spot that it blew in the yard or it didn’t get there at exactly the time they wanted it to. Then I had to collect money. I had to go door to door every single week and collect from my customers. That was my job.

I learned a ton about how to interface with customers at 10 years old. You’re intimidated and you have to go door to door and say, ‘Look, you owe me $1.50 for the newspaper.’ It gave me a lot of confidence. I delivered a service, and as a part of that service, I deserved to be compensated.

If there was one person you could sit down and speak with, who would it be and why?

My dad, Jerry. I lost my dad a long time ago. The lessons he taught me growing up, I’m still learning today. I’d love to sit down and talk to him again. I’d give anything to sit down and have a conversation with my dad.

Monday, 21 February 2011 13:38

Take your time

Brett Febus likes to take his time when he’s looking to hire someone at Insource Spend Management Group. If that means he has to put off making a final decision and can instead bring the person in on a temporary basis, he’ll do it.

“It’s a huge responsibility when you, as an employer, hire a person,” says Febus, founder and president at the 20-employee financial consulting company. “It’s a responsibility to their family, and it’s very important. You owe it to that potential employee to make a good decision. You start making reckless hiring decisions or thinking, ‘Oh, if this person doesn’t work out, I can just lay them off or fire them,’ that’s a recipe for disaster.”

The approach of bringing someone in on a temporary basis to better gauge their fit for an opening is one that has served Febus well over the years.

It has afforded him the opportunity to get to know prospective employees and assess whether a role exists that fits both their talents and his needs. His approach is not that much different from the process he would follow when making a permanent hire.

“We still believe that this is a person that with 99 percent certainty is a perfect fit for the job,” Febus says. “But on the off chance that it doesn’t work out, I just believe I don’t want them and they don’t want me. So why not put ourselves in a situation via being a contractor first where a separation can be clean and painless for both of us?”

When you present an opportunity to a prospective employee to get to know them better before making a final decision, you’re showing them that you respect the magnitude that a job has in a person’s life.

Febus is confident that someone who is really committed to working for you and for your company will be willing to go through a longer hiring process.

“Sometimes when an employee is looking for a job, they are going to sit across from you and say, ‘Yes, this is perfect; I love it,’” Febus says. “And really what they love is getting a paycheck every Friday. They wouldn’t care if they were pulling weeds. As long as they were getting a paycheck, they’re going to tell you it’s perfect. It’s important that everybody is honest with each other and that you set expectations.”

Go through your expectations with them and talk about what their role in your company would be.

“Write those expectations down,” Febus says. “Here’s what we expect the job is going to be. … The key is keeping it simple and making sure the expectations are really clear and that you’re being very honest with them.”

If you choose to bring someone in on a temporary basis, don’t treat him or her differently than you would a regular hire.

“We go through orientation, we give them business cards, we do all those things just like they are an employee,” Febus says.

Your goal is the same in either case. You’re trying to determine if this person is committed to your company. Without that commitment, they’re probably not a person you want to hire.

“I have to know you’re not still looking for another job,” Febus says. “I have to know that you are committing to this just like I am, and we have both represented everything to each other in its most true form and you have a desire to stay here for 10 or 20 or 30 years.”

How to reach: Insource Spend Management Group, (800) 397-6880 or www.insourcesmg.com

Keep your eyes open

When is the best time of year to think about hiring people into your business? How about any month on the calendar?

“Don’t just think about personnel moves every December or every April,” says Brett Febus, founder and president at Insource Spend Management Group. “Think about personnel moves all the time.”

Febus keeps a stack of resumes on his desk at the 20-employee company.

“There’s probably 30 of them, and periodically, I just flip through them,” Febus says. “This person was a good person. Do I have a spot? How about this person or this person? I’m constantly thinking about personnel moves.”

Encourage your employees to let you know about people who they think would be a good fit for your company. Talk about moves you’re thinking of making with your leadership team.

“I’ll just bring them in and say, ‘Listen, here’s what I’m thinking of doing. Shoot holes in it,’” Febus says. “They might say, ‘Brett, I know you’re thinking we don’t need that person today, but maybe we do for these reasons.’ You can’t talk about it too much with different people.”

If you have these discussions on a regular basis, you’ll be ready when action needs to be taken.

Monday, 21 February 2011 13:12

2011 Power 100

Smart Business Columbus Power 100The wave of change in Ohio’s political leadership had quite an effect on this year’s Power 100. Ted Strickland and Lee Fisher have been replaced by the newly elected Gov. John Kasich and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor. Kasich shoots up the list to debut at No. 10. while Taylor comes in at No. 60. The duo takes office with a swell of hope that it will be able to get Ohio’s economy moving again.

Two of Columbus’ civic leaders are also moving up this year. Mayor Michael Coleman moves from No. 3 to No. 2 as his campaign begins for a fourth term as leader of Ohio’s largest city while Gene Harris, superintendent of Columbus City Schools, jumps 24 spots to No. 50. Harris has played a key role in helping the district provide a better education to students.

Elaine Roberts makes another big leap with her efforts for leading Port Columbus International Airport, and she is joined on the way up by Chris Taylor at Mission Essential Personnel LLC and Joel Pizzuti with The Pizzuti Cos.

There are a total of 14 newcomers on this year’s list, meaning 14 other powerful figures were left out. There is no change at the top, of course, as Les Wexner keeps his spot. Limited Brands had a great year in 2010 and expectations are high for 2011.

So with that, we present the 2011 Power 100 list of the most influential business, civic and political leaders as ranked by our editors.

Numbers in parentheses are 2010 rankings.

1. Les Wexner

chairman and CEO, Limited Brands Inc. (1)

When only 420 people in the whole world are worth more than you financially, life can’t be too bad. According to Forbes, that is precisely where Wexner sits, with a net worth just shy of $3 billion. Limited Brands Inc. was coming off a challenging year as sales dipped for the third year in a row to $8.6 billion in 2009. But the company outperformed expectations in 2010, a sign that things could be turning around. Wexner remains chairman of the Ohio State University Board of Trustees and The Columbus Partnership. And as he told us in December, he’s always on the lookout for the next great idea. So stay tuned.

2. Michael Coleman

mayor, Columbus (3)

Despite the tidal wave of Republicans that washed over Columbus in November, Coleman, a Democrat, is still standing. Coleman plans to seek a fourth term this fall as mayor of Ohio’s largest city, and Republicans admit that he will be tough to beat. If he wins and completes his term, he would become the longest continuously serving mayor in Columbus history. One thing Coleman can proudly point to in his campaign is his ability to save money. His proposed budget for 2011 would increase the city’s rainy day fund balance to $33 million by the end of the next fiscal year. In these fiscally challenging times in Ohio, that’s an accomplishment.

3. John F. Wolfe

publisher, The Columbus Dispatch; chairman and CEO, The Dispatch Printing Co. (2)

Any fear that may exist about the future of print journalism wasn’t enough to stop The Columbus Dispatch from being named the best newspaper in Ohio for the second year in a row by the Associated Press Society of Ohio. The paper also won 35 awards in the annual contest, including 14 first-place awards — the most among Ohio’s largest newspapers.

4. E. Gordon Gee

president, The Ohio State University (4)

Gee made national headlines last fall when he suggested that the Boise States of the world don’t deserve a shot at eternal glory in college football because they don’t play a strong enough schedule. While the remarks drew much scorn in the sporting world, leading Gee to back off his position, the story reminded people about the power of Gee’s voice. Earlier in the year, Gee raised the idea of making changes in how tenure is awarded to college professors. Gee suggested that too much emphasis is placed on research and publishing prowess instead of teaching skill. We likely haven’t heard the last of this conversation.

5. Ron Pizzuti

chairman and CEO, The Pizzuti Cos. (5)

The times are tough in the real estate and construction industry, but The Pizzuti Cos. just keeps chugging along. The Columbus-based developer began work on a 700,000-square-foot warehouse in Marion for Whirlpool as well as a new office complex for the appliance manufacturer in Michigan. Pizzuti is also building a new center for the contract packager Accel Inc. in New Albany. And to cap it off, the developer was named Columbus’ best commercial real estate developer. Not a bad year.

6. Don M. Casto III

partner, Don M. Casto Organization (7)

Casto is another real estate company that is bucking the economic trend and making things happen in the construction business. The only catch is that most of these projects are either outside of Central Ohio or outside the state entirely. Here’s hoping 2011 finds more dirt flying in Columbus.

7. Steve Rasmussen

CEO, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. (10)

The company announced plans to move 1,400 suburban office jobs to vacant space in its downtown headquarters, a move that could help create even more jobs in Central Ohio. On the financial front, while 2010 revenue was off the pace from 2009 through three quarters, total net operating income was up substantially. It rose from $702 million in the first nine months of 2009 to $975 million for same period in 2010.

8. Tanny Crane

president and CEO, Crane Group (9)

Crane was named in August to the board of directors for Huntington Bancshares Inc. Her past experience as board chair for the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland was cited as a key factor in the appointment. She comes aboard just as Huntington seems to be turning things around. As for Crane Group, the company remains a solid presence in Columbus.

9. Alex Shumate

managing partner, Squire, Sanders & Dempsey LLP, Columbus office (6)

Shumate’s effort to help Gov. Ted Strickland craft a new school funding plan for Ohio won’t mean much now that Strickland is gone. But that doesn’t change the fact that Shumate has been and still is one of Columbus’ most respected lawyers. He continues to serve as global managing partner at Squire, Sanders & Dempsey LLP. He is also a fellow of the Ohio State Bar Association and a life member of the Sixth Circuit Judicial Conference.

10. John Kasich

governor, Ohio (new)

Kasich steps into his new job leading the state of Ohio with a great deal of support but, perhaps, even more pressure. There is little patience on either side of the aisle these days, so Kasich will not get much of a honeymoon at the Statehouse. He’s talked about privatizing job creation, eliminating the Ohio Department of Development and phasing out the state income tax. But, first, he must find a way to balance the state’s budget by closing a hole that could approach $8 billion. So we say, good luck, Governor. You’re going to need it.

11. Steve Steinour

chairman and CEO, Huntington Bancshares Inc. (11)

Steinour was confident he could turn around the fortunes of Huntington, and through the first three quarters of 2010, he appears to be making strides toward doing just that. Steinour cited the growth in auto loans as a particular bright spot. Both Moody’s and S&P raised their ratings outlooks for Huntington during the second half of 2010. So the future appears to be looking up for Huntington.

12. David Blom

president and CEO, OhioHealth (12)

The health care system completed its transition in the fall to operate four urgent care centers in Dublin, Grove City, Lewis Center and New Albany. OhioHealth was also named a Top 10 health system for the second year in a row by Thomson Reuters. Finally, Blom who serves as secretary of the Central Ohio Hospital Council, was honored by TechColumbus as its Executive of the Year for companies with more than 50 employees.

13. Jay Schottenstein

chairman, Schottenstein Management, American Eagle Outfitters, Retail Ventures Inc., SB Capital Group, DSW (8)

It was an up-and-down year for Schottenstein. Sales at both American Eagle and DSW were up over 2009 through the third quarter of 2010. Schottenstein also bought 500,000 shares in American Eagle for $6.79 million in September. On the downside, however, news leaked that Schottenstein has been dealing with a family legal squabble that could have ramifications on his family’s vast holdings.

14. Larry James

partner, Crabbe, Brown & James LLP (13)

James continues to be near the heart of what’s happening in Columbus. He served as chair of the Columbus City Council Charter Review Committee and the Ohio State Highway Patrol Superintendent Advisor Panel in 2010. He also continues his civic involvement as president of the board of trustees for the King Arts Complex, president of the Lincoln Theater Association and co-founder of the African-American Leadership Academy. In addition, James was named general counsel to the USA Track & Field board of directors.

15. John Beavers

partner, Bricker & Eckler LLP (14)

Beavers established and directs the Business First Advisory Board Exchange that finds, trains and places experienced advisers on advisory boards of business organizations. He was named Columbus Corporate Lawyer of the Year in the 2010 edition of “Best Lawyers.” He continues to be a respected voice in Columbus when the conversation turns to governance.

16. Donna James

managing director, Lardon & Associates LLC (15)

James was appointed by President Obama to chair the National Women’s Business Council responsible for providing recommendations for growing women-owned small businesses. She also serves on numerous boards and is the founder and chair of the Center for Healthy Families, a nonprofit focused on transforming the lives of pregnant and parenting teens and their children.

17. Curtis A. Loveland

partner, Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur LLP (16)

Loveland was once again ranked as one of the top lawyers in his area of practice for his work with corporate clients, mergers and acquisitions. Loveland also serves as board secretary for footwear retailer Rocky Brands Inc., where sales through three quarters of 2010 were up over the same period for 2009.

18. Dr. Steve Allen

CEO, Nationwide Children’s Hospital (18)

June 18, 2010, will go down in the books as a pretty good day for Allen. It was a day in which he welcomed both Gov. Ted Strickland and President Obama to his nationally renowned hospital. Obama’s visit was to discuss a road expansion project that Nationwide Children’s is spearheading for a neighboring pediatric hospital scheduled to open in 2012. Strickland arrived later to sign an important bill to help the effort to end childhood obesity.

19. Melissa Ingwersen

district president, Central Ohio, KeyBank (19)

It was announced in late December that Ingwersen would be leaving JPMorgan Chase, where she has been in charge of Central Ohio bank operations, to take on a very similar role with Cleveland-based KeyBank. Ingwersen began her new position in Columbus in January.

20. Ty Marsh

chairman, Columbus Bicentennial 2012 Organizing Committee (17)

Marsh resigned his post last summer as president and CEO of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce. He said he had accomplished the goals he had established when he took the position and felt it was time to move on to new challenges. He didn’t stay out of the public eye for long, however, as Marsh is now a key player in the plans to celebrate Columbus’ 200th birthday.

21. Bea Wolper

co-founder and partner, Emens & Wolper Law Firm Co. LPA (21)

Wolper’s law firm is up and running and focused on providing legal services for family-owned businesses and closely held firms. Wolper is a frequent author and lecturer on estate planning, wealth transfer, family-owned business issues and acquisitions. She also teaches courses on entrepreneurship and succession planning at Ohio Dominican University and for the Ohio State Bar Association.

22. Michael Fiorile

president and COO, The Dispatch Printing Co. (23)

Fiorile has moved on from being chairman of the NBC Affiliate Board to chairman emeritus. Fiorile played a key role in the movement of NBC affiliates to make a change with “The Jay Leno Show” when it’s 10 p.m. slot began to erode ratings for their late local news broadcasts. Fiorile was hailed for the strong leadership he demonstrated in this situation and overall.

23. Matthew G. Kallner

attorney, Law Offices of Matthew G. Kallner (22)

Kallner’s quiet hand continues to be as strong as ever, particularly with Republicans back in control of the state government. In the area of economic development, Kallner is involved with the efforts of CODA Automotive and the relocation of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. headquarters.

24. Dr. Steven G. Gabbe

CEO, OSU Medical Center (new)

Gabbe continues to steer a $1 billion medical center expansion. The largest construction project in OSU history has accounted for 10,000 jobs, with 6,000 permanent jobs at the medical center and 4,000 other positions that can indirectly be attributed to the project.

Gabbe has also agreed, at the request of OSU President Gordon Gee, to extend his leadership as senior vice president and chief executive officer of the OSU Medical Center beyond his initial contract.

25. Curtis Moody

president and CEO, Moody-Nolan Inc. (29)

It’s been another good year for Curtis Moody. In March, he was the speaker for Ohio State’s winter commencement. He spoke in the Jerome Schottenstein Center, one of several buildings on the OSU campus that he personally designed as principal architect. Less than a month later, Moody watched proudly as the new $118 million student union building opened on the campus, giving OSU’s 55,000 students a place to enjoy, grow and thrive.

26. Peter Geier

CEO, OSU Health System; COO, OSU Medical Center (20)

Geier pointed to increased demand for patient services as a key reason for OSU’s foray into the retail health clinic business. Two FastCare centers opened at Giant Eagle grocery stores in the Columbus area, geared to treat ailments and conditions that do not require a trip to the emergency room.

27. Russell Gertmenian

managing partner, Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP (27)

Gertmenian’s law firm was one of a dozen Columbus-area firms to take part in a scholarship drive for The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. He continues as a board member with the Columbus Metropolitan Library Foundation and is also part of the Ohio Business Roundtable.

28. Rob Portman

U.S. senator, Ohio (new)

Portman is a familiar name to Ohioans and to those who follow the national political scene. While he is one Republican replacing another, taking over for retired Senator George Voinovich, Portman still rode the wave of voter frustration with the Democrats. He successfully hammered Lee Fisher on his failure to create jobs for Ohioans, so we’ll see how Portman fares in helping people get back to work. Like Kasich, results will be expected quickly.

29. Linda Heasley

chairman and CEO, Limited Stores (30)

The company has relocated to new headquarters in New Albany and is riding a wave of fresh energy. Heasley is confident she can build on the fact that the company turned a profit for the first time in 16 years and continue the women’s clothing retailer’s success.

30. Jack Kessler

owner, John W. Kessler Co.; chairman, The New Albany Co. (24)

Kessler was one of a number of Columbus business leaders to co-host a pre-election fundraiser last October for new U.S. House Speaker John Boehner. Otherwise, Kessler kept a rather low profile in 2010.

31. Doug Kridler

president and CEO, The Columbus Foundation (31)

Kridler leads the ninth-largest community foundation in the United States. The group has committed $500,000 to the Great Needs Challenge, which helps those in need with health care, housing, food and work assistance. Kridler also serves on the board and executive committee of Compete Columbus, a leadership group working to develop a regional economic development strategy.

32. John P. McConnell

chairman and CEO, Worthington Industries Inc.; majority owner, Columbus Blue Jackets (35)

Worthington began to turn things around in 2010, recovering from what the company described as its worst year ever. While net sales fell to $1.9 billion from $2.6 billion in 2009, the company realized net earnings of $51.5 million, compared to a loss of $103.7 million in 2009. As for the Blue Jackets, McConnell posted a video on the team’s website expressing cautious optimism about the team’s future in Columbus and thanking fans for their continued support. But he also called on other community leaders to step up and work with him to find a solution to the team’s arena issues.

33. Jeffrey Wadsworth

president and CEO, Battelle Memorial Institute (39)

Wadsworth was named to the board of trustees at The Ohio State University as well as to President Obama’s National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The council supports the Obama administration’s innovation strategy by helping to develop policies to foster entrepreneurship and help get new ideas from the lab to the marketplace.

34. Roger Geiger

Ohio executive director, National Federation of Independent Business (34)

Geiger worked hard to help John Kasich unseat Ted Strickland and become Ohio’s new governor. One of his key talking points was a need for lower taxes in Ohio to help smaller businesses. He also encouraged business groups to let their voices be heard when it comes to endorsing candidates for public office.

35. John B. Gerlach Jr.

chairman, president and CEO, Lancaster Colony Corp. (32)

Lancaster’s net sales for fiscal 2010, which closed at the end of June, once again topped $1 billion and grew 0.5 percent over fiscal 2009. Gerlach continues to focus on staying flexible to accommodate future growth potential. He also remains active with the Dean’s Advisory Council for The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business.

36. Boyce Safford III

director, Columbus Department of Development (36)

Safford took part in an economic development round table in April with other city leaders to discuss strategies for job retention, creation and attraction. He also called on additional funding to be allocated to social service agencies to help them meet an increased demand for their services.

37. Gene Smith

director of athletics, The Ohio State University (38)

Smith is chairman of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee for the 2010-11 academic year, a term which began last September. So you can look for Smith next month on CBS as he reviews this year’s selection process for March Madness. Smith also received a pay raise at OSU that makes him one of the highest paid athletic directors in the country, according to the Associated Press. Smith manages a $120 million budget with 36 intercollegiate sports, the most of any athletic department in the nation.

38. Larry Hilsheimer

president and COO, Nationwide Direct & Customer Solutions (41)

Hilsheimer is focused on Internet strategy and operations, affinity, strategic alliances, and Nationwide’s call-center-based sales units. In addition, he oversees Nationwide Bank, Nationwide Better Health, Veterinary Pet Insurance and Nationwide’s Customer Services organization. He also sits on the Dean’s Advisory Council at the OSU Fisher College of Business and is a board member of The Ohio State University Alumni Association.

39. Jack Ruscilli

chairman, Ruscilli Construction Co. Inc. (40)

Ruscilli continues to serve as chairman and work with the fourth generation at Ruscilli’s to lead the construction firm. The company took on a $24.4 million construction project in late 2009 to gut Cunz Hall at The Ohio State University and recycled much of the old material from the building to show the benefit of doing so.

40. Lewis Smoot Sr.

chairman and CEO, Smoot Construction Co. (33)

Smoot has stepped down from his role as president at Smoot Construction Co. and passed the reins to his nephew, Mark Cain, who has led the company’s office in Washington, D.C., for several years.

41. Michael Gonsiorowski

Central Ohio regional president, PNC Financial Services Group Inc. (42)

The PNC Foundation committed $250,000 in grants to BalletMet Columbus and the Center of Science and Industry for programming that will help prepare area preschoolers to succeed in school. The program incorporates creative movement and science into learning activities designed to engage their minds and bodies. This represents the first major grant effort by PNC in the Columbus area. Gonsiorowski has also been serving as chair of the board of trustees for United Way of Central Ohio. As for PNC, the company reported a slight dip in revenue but a larger gain in net income for the first three quarters of 2010.

42. David Milenthal

CEO, The Milenthal Group (43)

Milenthal and his company were big supporters of both Gov. Ted Strickland and Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, who were ousted in the November election. Otherwise, Milenthal kept a rather low profile in 2010.

43. Kurt Tunnell

managing partner, Bricker & Eckler LLP (45)

Tunnell was elected managing partner at the firm in February 2010. He spoke last spring to the Ohio Chemistry Technology Council about the potential impact of the 2010 election on chemical manufacturers. Tunnell remains a respected voice in the Columbus region and is being looked to for guidance at Bricker & Eckler.

44. Abigail Wexner

founder and chair, Columbus Coalition Against Family Violence (50)

Wexner continues to serve as the chair of Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the Center for Child and Family Advocacy and is the founding chair of KidsOhio.org. The latter group has been busy in 2010 advocating for students in Ohio’s schools and raising awareness in less-publicized issues, such as the growing poverty in Ohio’s suburban school districts.

45. Michael Morris

chairman, president and CEO, AEP (51)

AEP reached $13.5 billion in 2009 revenue and was on pace to top that figure after the third quarter of 2010. Morris is leading efforts to develop an advanced interstate high-voltage transmission system that is both reliable and efficient. Morris is chairman of the Columbus Downtown Development Corp. and Capitol South.

46. Curt Steiner

senior vice president for government affairs, The Ohio State University (46)

Steiner continues to strengthen OSU’s ties with government and civic leaders. His efforts have led to formal recognition of OSU by Ohio’s Board of Regents as the state’s national research university. OSU is using this position to push an aggressive agenda at the congressional level.

47. Nancy Kramer

founder and CEO, Resource Interactive (47)

Kramer leads the largest independent, woman-owned agency in the United States. Her company has been chosen by Advertising Age as one of five agencies on its way to the top.

48. Chester R. Jourdan Jr.

executive director, Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (48)

Jourdan was elected to the American Highway Users Alliance Board in October. The advocacy organization promotes safe, uncongested highways and enhanced freedom of mobility. His term will run through 2013.

49. Dwight Smith

founder and CEO, Sophisticated Systems (49)

Smith took part in a panel discussion at The Ohio State University in late November to discuss the state of the national economy. The discussion, which included Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, focused on the importance of finding a way to create new jobs. Smith said his IT company is taking advantage of every opportunity it can to drive new business.

50. Gene T. Harris

superintendent, Columbus City Schools (74)

Harris was honored in February with the Community Leadership Award presented by the Key Club at an event hosted by Les and Abigail Wexner. Harris was also rewarded for her efforts to move the school district from academic emergency to continuous improvement with a new four-year contract that also included a pay raise. Harris had deferred previous votes by the board to give her a salary bump.

51. Elaine Roberts

president and CEO, Port Columbus International Airport (60)

Roberts is flying high after a five-year agreement was reached that offers an unprecedented sharing of 75 percent of net airport revenues with no cap to airlines that operate out of Port Columbus. She cited her team’s discipline in managing costs and increased passenger activity for the ability to share revenue and expand services.

52. Bob Weiler Sr.

chairman, The Robert Weiler Co. (52)

Weiler serves on the board for the Ohio Capital Corp. for Housing, which seeks to provide affordable housing in Ohio. He also continues to offer perspective as the Leader-In-Residence at Franklin University’s Leadership Center.

53. Rich Langdale

founder and managing partner, NCT Ventures; interim CEO, DOmedia LLC (53)

Langdale is a serial entrepreneur who has founded or co-founded more than a dozen companies. DOmedia is his latest business venture, a media planning and buying platform that covers alternative, traditional and digital out-of-home media. Langdale didn’t create this company, but he was named interim CEO in July to assist in raising capital for the business’s growth.

54. Jordan A. Miller Jr.

president and CEO, Fifth Third Bank, Central Ohio (54)

Miller lent his services to another Central Ohio organization when he was named to the James Cancer Hospital Board that oversees the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute. He is on numerous other civic boards, including the Columbus Partnership, United Way of Central Ohio and the Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges.

55. Jane Grote Abell

chair, Donatos Pizzeria LLC (55)

Abell continues to provide strategic counsel for the business in her new role. The company announced in July it had sold the majority share of its Cincinnati and Indianapolis markets to Titan Restaurant Group LLC. The result will be a transition from company-owned restaurants to franchise-owned units, plus the addition of 10 new restaurants in those markets.

56. Craig Marshall

managing partner, Ernst & Young LLP, Columbus office (56)

Marshall serves as secretary/treasurer for the Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission. This board oversees capital improvement funds for planning, construction, renovation and expansion projects at Ohio’s theaters, museums, historical sites and publicly owned professional sports venues.

57. Michael Petrecca

managing partner, Pricewaterhouse-Coopers, Columbus office (57)

Petrecca continues to serve on the boards of the Ohio Society of CPAs, the Greater Columbus Convention & Visitors Bureau, also known as Experience Columbus, and TechColumbus.

58. David Meuse

principal, Stonehenge Financial Holdings, Stonehenge Partners Inc. (58)

Meuse is responsible for providing counsel as it relates to matters of investment origination, portfolio asset management and disposition of Stonehenge investments. He continues to serve on several boards, including those at State Auto Financial Corp. and Kenyon College.

59. Robert M. Eversole

principal, Stonehenge Partners Inc. (59)

Eversole serves as a board member of Advanced Drainage Systems, as well as Nationwide Children’s Hospital Foundation, the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, the Dean’s Advisory Council for The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business and the Catholic Foundation.

60. Mary Taylor

lieutenant governor, Ohio (new)

Taylor became the first CPA to serve as Ohio’s state auditor. Now, along with Gov. John Kasich, she is part of a team that is faced with great pressure to turn around Ohio’s economy and create new jobs. She was the only Republican elected to a statewide, nonjudicial office in 2006 when she took over as auditor. She clearly knows a lot about which cities and school districts have their act together fiscally after auditing them over the past four years. Now we’ll see what she can do to help get the whole state turned around.

61. Michelle Abreu

co-founder, chair and president, Oxford Consulting Group Inc. (61)

Abreu continues to help Oxford Consulting Group grow and expand its presence in Columbus. She is also a board member of Amethyst Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides long-term addiction and mental health treatment, integrated with affordable housing, to women and families.

62. Tami Longaberger

chair and CEO, The Longaberger Co. (62)

The basket-maker has expanded its online sales options but still relies heavily on its independent home consultants, who number in tens of thousands across the United States. The company is also on Facebook and continues to hold events across the country for basket enthusiasts.

63. Bill Ingram

CEO, White Castle Systems Inc. (64)

More than 1,350 entries were submitted in 2010 as candidates for induction into the restaurant chain’s Cravers Hall of Fame, the most ever since the program began in 2001. That long list was whittled down to 13 inductees in November. Clearly there’s still plenty of love for these tasty little sliders.

64. Cheryl Krueger

founder and CEO, KRUEGER+CO. Consulting Inc. (65)

Krueger received accolades from Gov. Kasich during his gubernatorial campaign as both leaders support significant changes to the Ohio Department of Development as a means to stimulate the economy in Ohio.

65. J. Richard Emens

partner, Emens & Wolper Law Firm; chairman and executive director, Conway Family Business Center (66)

Emens has been busy working with his team at Conway Family Business Center to put together programs that help family businesses succeed. More than 115 such businesses have been honored by the not-for-profit organization over the past 11 years.

66. Brian Ellis

president and COO, Nationwide Realty Investors Ltd. (67)

Ellis has been hard at work moving forward on Grandview Yard, a project that is expected to eventually contain 1.5 to 2 million square feet of commercial and retail space and create 5,000 new jobs for the region. Ellis says one of the keys to the success of the project will be the ability of the cities of Columbus and Grandview Heights to work together.

67. Denny Griffith

president, Columbus College of Art & Design (68)

The college opened its 132nd school year with 1,385 students, an 8 percent increase over what had been projected. Griffith is also serving on Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman’s 2012 Commission, focusing on the image and marketing aspects of the group’s efforts.

68. Joe A. Alutto

executive vice president and provost, The Ohio State University (69)

Alutto spoke early in the year about the consolidation of the arts and science colleges and the move from quarters to semesters in 2012 and the opportunity that will exist to reinvent the educational experience at OSU. He also talked about the One Ohio State Framework, an effort to integrate fiscal, program and physical planning at the school.

69. Ted Ford

president and CEO, TechColumbus (70)

Ford expressed hope for continued growth for the 315 Research & Technology Corridor, a 10,000-acre span of property that continues to evolve as a research park. As a technology incubator in Central Ohio, the organization has invested more than $11 million in technology startups since 2005.

70. Sandra W. Harbrecht

president and CEO, Paul Werth Associates (73)

Harbrecht was one of our inductees into the Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame in 2010. She continues to work hard as the chair of Experience Columbus. Her public relations and marketing company, Paul Werth Associates, gained some valuable social media expertise when it purchased Huber & Co. in March.

71. David Harrison

president, Columbus State Community College (new)

Harrison took over as president in July, then welcomed a record enrollment of 30,955 students when autumn classes convened in September. That’s up 25.8 percent over autumn enrollment for 2008. The college board also approved a $15.2 million project to renovate and add more than 17,000 square feet to the campus’s Union Hall.

72. Robert Schottenstein

chairman, president and CEO, M/I Homes Inc. (71)

The company lost $15.2 million through the first three quarters of 2010, which was better than the $69.1 million that was lost for the same period in 2009. Schottenstein said the builder will proceed cautiously and continue to hope that employment and housing begin to stabilize.

73. Chris Taylor

CEO, Mission Essential Personnel LLC (94)

Revenue at this professional services firm has grown fast, going from $43 million in 2007 to $375 million in 2009. Business remained strong into 2010 as the company inked a $475 million contract to assist U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan with data collection and analysis. The company also headlined the 2010 International Peace Operations Association Annual Summit in Washington, D.C.

74. Michael Glimcher

chairman and CEO, Glimcher Realty Trust (72)

While overall revenue and earnings continued to struggle in 2010, average store sales and occupancy in the company’s mall properties provided some hope by inching forward in the third quarter. Glimcher announced plans in late August to buy Hawaii’s second-largest shopping mall through a joint venture.

75. Frank Kass

chairman, Continental Real Estate Cos. (76)

Kass spoke out in August about the lack of adequate parking in downtown Columbus and the impediment it creates for growth in the city. He suggested public/private partnerships could be the answer to erasing the reluctance of some businesses to relocate downtown.

76. Janet Jackson

president and CEO, United Way of Central Ohio Inc. (77)

The agency has set 10-year goals that lay out specific benchmarks to be achieved in the areas of education, income, health and home safety. As an example, Jackson wants to reduce by 20 percent the number of households in Franklin County that don’t earn enough income to meet basic needs. The goals will not be easy to achieve as fundraising for 2009-10 was down 16 percent from the prior year. Officials are also concerned that donors are directing their contributions to programs outside of the United Way system.

77. Cameron Mitchell

founder and president, Cameron Mitchell Restaurants LLC (79)

Mitchell’s company is planning to open an eighth Ocean Prime restaurant in Denver in early 2011. Ocean Prime has won several awards across the country, including Best Piano Bar in Tampa, Best Bar in Orlando and Best Dining Service in Columbus. Mitchell himself is serving as chair of the board of trustees for the Culinary Institute of America.

78. Joel Pizzuti

president and COO, The Pizzuti Cos. (99)

The developer was keeping busy as the year wound down. Construction has begun on a 700,000-square-foot warehouse in Marion for Whirlpool Corp., as well as an office complex in the appliance manufacturer’s hometown of Benton Harbor, Mich. Closer to home, Pizzuti has been hired to build a 417,000-square-foot center at the New Albany Business Park for contract packager Accel Inc.

79. Neil Mortine

president and CEO, Fahlgren Mortine (84)

Mortine led the agency’s first acquisition in six years, buying the PR firm Edward Howard. He also spearheaded the purchase of GRIP Technology to bolster his firm’s digital capabilities. Mortine encourages his team to use their skills for “the greater good” and the firm itself has ongoing pro bono relationships with several organizations, including the Franklin Park Conservatory and the Columbus Symphony.

80. Guy Worley

president and CEO, Columbus Downtown Development Corp. and Capital South Community Urban Redevelopment Corp. (80)

Work is continuing on Columbus Commons. The old mall was dismantled beginning in late 2009 and continuing into 2010. A park is scheduled to open in the spring and work is ongoing to bring tenants to the 1.2 million square feet of space.

81. Douglas Morgan

partner, Hahn Loeser & Parks LLP (78)

Morgan was honored with a Community Service Award from the Columbus Bar Association for his contribution of time and service to Central Ohio. He is also involved with the Columbus Chamber of Commerce, where he chairs the Green Council, and the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Foundation.

82. Sheri Tackett

founder and president, Delta Energy LLC (82)

The company broke ground over the summer on its new headquarters in Dublin. The building is expected to be completed in March. A time capsule was left that will be unearthed in 2017 in honor of the company’s 20th anniversary. Among the items in the capsule: Silly Bandz, drawings by the children of employees, a gasoline receipt and natural gas price charts.

83. Robert Trafford

managing partner, Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP (75)

His law firm was once again named one of the best in the nation by Chambers USA. He is also a member of the Ohio Business Roundtable, a director with the executive committee of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and an honorary trustee with the Columbus Council on World Affairs.

84. David Bianconi

founder and CEO, Progressive Medical Inc. (new)

Bianconi was inducted into the Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame this year. Bianconi has helped his company consistently grow and adapt since he launched it as a provider of electromedical equipment in 1986. Bianconi serves on the boards of TechColumbus and Kids Chance Ohio.

85. Robert C. White

co-founder and chairman, The Daimler Group Inc. (87)

A great deal of hard work paid off in January with the opening of the JamesCare Comprehensive Breast Health Center on the old Gowdy Field landfill site. An open house is scheduled for April at the four-floor, 114,000-square-foot center. Daimler worked hard to get EPA-mandated remediation completed to get this project, which includes a new regional headquarters for Time Warner and an eye and ear center for OSU.

86. James Davidson

president and partner, Schottenstein Zox & Dunn (86)

Davidson is coordinator of the employment litigation practice area, focusing on commercial and employment litigation. His firm received numerous accolades in 2010, including being named a top health law firm in Ohio for the sixth year in a row.

87. George Barrett

chairman and CEO, Cardinal Health Inc. (90)

As CEO for most of fiscal 2010, Barrett watched his company register $98.5 billion in revenue, up from $96 billion in fiscal 2009. Barrett is a recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award of Excellence in Global Business from New York University Stern School of Business and a recipient of an Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

88. Barbara Kunz

president, Health and Life Sciences Global Business, Battelle Memorial Institute (new)

Kunz is replacing Jeff Wadsworth as chairman of the board at The Ohio State University’s Medical Center. She is also a trustee of OSU’s James Cancer Hospital, the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Research Institute Board and is the chair of the technology commercialization subcommittee. Kunz is the chairwoman of the board for BioOhio and chairs that group’s finance and audit subcommittee. BioOhio works to help companies advance in the biosciences industry.

89. Dave Sceva

president, Central Ohio, U.S. Bank (93)

Sceva presented a check in March for $1.05 million to the new Ohio Union. A total of $500,000 will go to the new Union and the balance will benefit more than 900 student organizations at OSU. The Union, a focal point for student life, activities and organizations, is recognizing the support by naming its theater in honor of U.S. Bank. The theater hosts movie showings and a lecture series and will now be known as the U.S. Bank Conference Theater.

90. Alex Fischer

president and CEO, Columbus Partnership (100)

Fischer’s organization is a collection of top executives from Central Ohio’s largest companies. It has set a goal of raising $30 million over the next five years to help spur economic development in Ohio.

91. John McEwan

managing partner, Deloitte LLP’s Central Ohio practice (91)

McEwan’s team moved into a new building in 2010 that Deloitte calls an “office of the future.” Designers focused on creating a space that would be sustainable and foster a collaborative environment that includes all of the necessary technology and features employees need to succeed.

92. Deborah Pryce

senior public policy adviser, SZD Whiteboard (new)

SZD Whiteboard is a consulting enterprise with roots in Schottenstein Zox & Dunn. Pryce brings both leadership and legislative experience to the table, having served as House Conference Chair, the highest-ranking woman in the history of the U.S. House of Representatives.

93. Adam Heeter

CEO, Oxford Consulting Group Inc. (new)

Heeter graduated from Leadership Columbus, an intensive 10-month program meant to develop informed and committed leaders in the Columbus area. He manages all Oxford business units and functional disciplines, including sales and client delivery, and has played a central role in Oxford’s dramatic growth.

94. Tom Krouse

CEO, Donatos Pizza (new)

Krouse took over as CEO in October. Before this, he headed up the development of Donatos’ new brand concept, franchise growth strategy and started the Jane’s Dough Foods business unit. Now, he is primarily concentrating on growing the Donatos brand through franchising as the pizza chain currently holds development rights for an additional 250 franchise stores.

95. Sue Zazon

president and CEO, FirstMerit Bank, Columbus region (96)

Zazon and FirstMerit Bank were recognized for their contributions to the Madison County Hospital Foundation. On the financial front, the bank reported third quarter net income of $29 million, down from the previous quarter but up from the $22.8 million registered in the third quarter of 2009.

96. Debra Penzone

president, Charles Penzone Family of Salons (97)

Penzone continues to be a visible presence in the Columbus region trying to help and inspire people to succeed. She is on the board of Dress for Success Columbus, an organization that helps give women the skills they need to achieve in today’s business world.

97. Philip R. Smith II

office managing partner, KPMG (new)

Smith is a big believer in giving back to the community. He donates his time to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio and mentors Central Ohio youth weekly through the Project Mentor program. He has been an integral member of KPMG Columbus’s United Way campaign, which has raised more than $125,000 each of the past two years.

98. Martin Inglis

executive vice president, CFO, Battelle Memorial Institute (new)

Inglis made lovers of classical music throughout Columbus very happy through his efforts to help the Columbus Symphony Orchestra erase a projected $1.5 million deficit. Cost-cutting, corporate support and taxpayer dollars all helped the cash-strapped musical entity end its 2009-10 season with a surplus of about $200,000. Inglis’ own company, Battelle, stepped up with $900,000 of support and Inglis was named chairman of the symphony’s board.

99. Thomas M. Zaino

managing member, Columbus, McDonald Hopkins LLC (new)

Zaino is not only well known in the business community in Columbus, but he is also a nationally recognized expert on multistate tax issues. He heads the law firm’s Columbus office, is chair of the firm’s multistate tax practice and is on the firm’s board of directors. He is also a sought-after tax expert in Ohio for companies and business owners facing tax audits or needing state tax policy changes.

100. Jim Tressel

football coach, The Ohio State University (new)

You’re not a leader if you don’t have people to follow you, right? Well, Tressel has more than 100,000 people following him every Saturday in the fall. They wear vests and cheer on his team during the game and then they solemnly sing “Carmen Ohio” with his boys after the game is over. Most of all, of course, they adore him for going 9-1 against that school up north. But it’s about more than football with Tressel. He’s active throughout the Columbus community with numerous charitable causes, and he’s a big reason why OSU’s athletic department is so successful and generates so much revenue. So he belongs on our list.

Leadership is very simple to Michael Lowenbaum. He doesn’t see it as his job to bark out orders and tell his employees and lawyers what to do from the moment they walk through his law firm’s doors until they walk back out.

“It takes a lot of faith and a lot of trust,” says Lowenbaum, founder of The Lowenbaum Partnership LLC. “These people could walk out of here with these clients and there would be nothing I could do about it, because I haven’t done the necessary thing to put my hooks into the client. There is a risk with that, but the reward is tremendous. Those people develop that client. They develop the skills, and they feel empowered, and they feel like an owner.”

Lowenbaum wanted to build a law firm that didn’t focus on billable hours and the speed with which you could make partner.

“Everyone here is a partner in name to the outside world, but they’re not a partner in the profits in a direct way,” Lowenbaum says. “They are in an indirect way, because when we profit, we all do well. But the hard part is to get people who were partners in other firms that came over as equity partners for the firms they used to work for and to get them to continue to be motivated.”

That’s where the empowerment comes in. And while Lowenbaum leads his 35-employee law firm in this way, he says the principles apply to any type of business that you can think of.

“If people believe they really do have control over their destiny, and they believe they can make a difference, and if you show them that you value how they make a difference and make them feel that they really do matter, it gives them so much more reason to be happy about coming to work,” Lowenbaum says.

The key to making empowerment work is to stay true to what empowerment is supposed to be. Give your people real opportunities to learn and grow in your company.

“You can get them up to speed with what to do and how to do it, but until they see you do it and until they get the real-life experience, it’s not going to work,” Lowenbaum says. “I don’t just take them to a meeting to watch me. I get them involved in the meeting. Before the meeting, if there’s a file to look at or information about the client that is available, I have them come into that meeting fully prepared like I am.”

Putting your employees in front of your clients is another way to provide experience and to show your people that you value them and you’re entrusting them with a certain level of responsibility.

“We had an all-firm seminar where we had 350 clients come,” Lowenbaum says. “We put the junior lawyers up on podiums in front of the people and had them present on a topic. Some of the topics were topics they had never spoken on or practiced in. They had to learn it so they had the mastery to do that in front of 350 people. … If you don’t allow the junior people or younger people to do that, they are never going to get the opportunity. They’re going to become better speakers and then your clients are going to see who they are and gravitate toward them.”

Set an agenda and a time frame for the people you’re training and give them goals to strive for so they can see the progress they are making.

“That not only empowers them and motivates them, but you use that with others and say, ‘Look at what Mary can do now that she couldn’t do three months ago,’” Lowenbaum says. “‘That’s because she participated in these training activities. … If you’d like to do this well and advance like Mary has, here’s what you should be doing.’”

How to reach: The Lowenbaum Partnership LLC, (314) 863-0092 or www.lowenbaumlaw.com

Get your team involved

People in authority don’t always make the best delegators.

“They do it themselves, because they know they can do it better,” says Michael Lowenbaum, founder of The Lowenbaum Partnership LLC. “If you don’t make delegating something you are evaluating on and something you’re judging their work performance on, they’re not going to do it.”

You need your supervisors to be good delegators if you hope to build the leadership capacity in your company. If the ones in charge are doing everything, the youngsters will never learn. So you need to make it clear that it’s part of their job to train the newcomers.

“I tell them their compensation is going to be based on how they develop their staff and how they do let go of some things,” says Lowenbaum, whose law firm has 35 employees. “You may be better at it today, but in three years, both of you will be good at it if you let go a little bit.”

Lowenbaum says it’s the same as any other behavior that you want to instill in your people.

“The only way to make it so is the expectation that if they don’t do it, there will be consequences,” Lowenbaum says. “If you’re serious about it, they’ll do it.”

Get your team involved

People in authority don’t always make the best delegators.

“They do it themselves, because they know they can do it better,” says Michael Lowenbaum, founder of The Lowenbaum Partnership LLC. “If you don’t make delegating something you are evaluating on and something you’re judging their work performance on, they’re not going to do it.”

You need your supervisors to be good delegators if you hope to build the leadership capacity in your company. If the ones in charge are doing everything, the youngsters will never learn. So you need to make it clear that it’s part of their job to train the newcomers.

“I tell them their compensation is going to be based on how they develop their staff and how they do let go of some things,” says Lowenbaum, whose law firm has 35 employees. “You may be better at it today, but in three years, both of you will be good at it if you let go a little bit.”

Lowenbaum says it’s the same as any other behavior that you want to instill in your people.

“The only way to make it so is the expectation that if they don’t do it, there will be consequences,” Lowenbaum says. “If you’re serious about it, they’ll do it.”

It all made sense to Bryan Bedford. He was confident that the move Republic Airways Holdings Inc. had made to buy Frontier Airline Holdings Inc. and Midwest Air Group Inc., acquisitions meant to help Republic remain competitive in the volatile airline industry, would result in a smooth cultural integration.

After all, each of the companies had a pretty strong culture before the move was made.

“Our assumption was that it would just continue,” says Bedford, chairman, president and CEO at the 10,340-employee Republic Airways. “We weren’t doing anything to change it negatively, therefore it shouldn’t be negatively affected. But that’s not what happened. What really happened is the management team was waiting for us to tell them how the new regime was going to work.

“We were assuming that by not telling them to change anything, they would continue to do things the way they always did it. And essentially what happened was things just stopped.”

Unfortunately for Bedford, it wasn’t the first miscalculation he and his team had made in the acquisition of Frontier and Midwest. Republic’s team had also assumed that one of the company’s technology platforms, either Frontier or Midwest, would be suitable to serve as a template for the combined entity.

“But as it turned out, neither one was robust enough to do the work for the consolidated airline,” Bedford says. “That was a huge distraction and a fairly substantial setback for us in the integration process.”

Faced with a group of employees uncertain about their future and a question about how to integrate different technologies, Bedford had a lot of work to do to keep this important transaction on course.

“We knew there was going to be some pain due to these technology limitations we were saddled with,” Bedford says. “The question was: Could we retain loyalty while we worked through this transition process?”

Get the word out

Bedford began by being up front with his people about the unexpected problems with integrating the technology platforms of the two companies that Republic acquired.

“The long-term objective doesn’t change,” Bedford says. “The timeline and perhaps the path to get there changes. So you need to reorient your short-term thinking in order to work around, in this case, the technology obstacles. You have to communicate that consistently and strongly to your front-line employees so they understand why it is their jobs are harder to accomplish.”

Your goal is not to explain every last detail of the challenge you’re facing. That will only create more confusion.

“Getting people to understand detailed technology challenges, frankly, we just avoid it,” Bedford says. “We don’t go into the nuts and bolts of what’s the bitmapping process to move PNRs from platform A to platform B. We don’t feel we have to get into the esoteric computerese of why the technology migration is more challenging or more daunting. We simply have to tell them that it is, and, ‘Here’s what we’re doing to overcome it, and here’s the timeline.’”

Bedford’s goal was simply to explain that because of the technology integration issues, it was going to take a bit longer to finish that part of the deal with Frontier and Midwest. But that wasn’t going to be easy either.

“We have 11,000 employees but at over 74 different locations,” Bedford says. “Probably closer to 5,000 of our employees are flight crews that are on 1,600 flights a day flying all over the country. It’s not like you could just call a team meeting and gather everybody in the conference room.”

So Bedford put together a series of opportunities for employees to hear about what was being done to resolve the problem.

There were group meetings attended by 150 to 200 people each that were recorded for rebroadcast on the website.

“Some of those podcasts were interactive, and we actually did open phone lines so people from across the country could listen in to the presentation and ask questions and everyone could hear the answers,” Bedford says. “We stored the podcasts on the website so employees that couldn’t listen to it real time could listen to the exchange and understand what was going on.”

Bedford also made trips to the company’s new locations in Denver and Milwaukee and continued his weekly letter to employees. The goal was to provide a multitude of opportunities for employees to get information.

It’s important that you find various ways to communicate, because your people will respond to it in different ways.

“If you put 10 people in a room and they listen to the exact same presentation, chances are they are going to walk out with 10 different assessments of what they heard,” Bedford says. “People just hear and process information differently, even if it’s identical information. Our goal wasn’t that people should walk away with the exact same understanding. Our goal was to present everybody with a consistent and transparent update with how we were progressing with the goal of getting through this short-term technology challenge.”

The more methods you use to talk to your people, whether it’s town-hall meetings, newsletters or even social media, your goal is to make it a challenge for your people not to hear your message.

“I’m not suggesting that they get it on the first go-around or even the second or the third,” Bedford says. “But if you continue to have this open dialogue and if from the top all the way down to middle management, if they are speaking consistently, sooner or later, they are going to figure it out.

“Then they’re out in the field saying, ‘Look, I know what these guys are trying to do. You may not get it, but I get it. Just be patient. We’re moving in the right direction.’”

Get others involved

The actual process that was undertaken to resolve the technology issue and the resulting barrage of communication also played a role in fixing the cultural confusion that was hampering the company that was trying to come together.

“While we had this thing called technology, in the background, were still all of these cultural dynamics and something as simple as trust,” Bedford says. “You may be the new owner, but the employees still don’t know you from Adam. They have no basis to trust you. It’s not that they don’t trust you, but you have no track record with them on what you can say.”

Employees were confused about what they were supposed to be doing and Bedford needed them to start working together as one cohesive unit.

“We had to get the management team talking and functioning together and build the management team up so they could actually continue to run the business and then push that communication down to the front-line employees,” Bedford says. “So we pulled together some management committees to just look at the three different companies in terms of their policies, procedures and operating practices and really decide, ‘Let’s just pick the best of the best and have everybody do it the same way.’”

Your approach is critical to making this work. Even if you’re the one acquiring the other company, if you come off like you’re dictating how things are going to be done, you’re just asking for trouble.

“If you happen to be an employee of Frontier and your manager comes out and says, ‘Hey, we’re changing procedures,’ your manager can respond one of two ways. They can say, ‘Republic told us to do it this way.’ Or they can say, ‘Well, we sat down as a group and looked at the three different practices and we all agreed that this is the better way and here’s how it’s better.’ You can get management to buy in to the changes and sell the changes and understand that employees will ask questions and deserve thoughtful answers as opposed to, ‘Well, this is how Republic told us to do it.’”

It’s another step in bringing two or, in this case, three, different cultures together into one. That’s not something that typically happens on its own.

“The expectation was that they should just automatically behave the same way we behave,” Bedford says. “Not understanding the psychology of an acquisition, the management teams at these companies were fearful of how they could operate.”

It may seem obvious to you that you want the managers of the company you’re acquiring to continue to act like managers, but in the case of Republic, it wasn’t.

“We had to reassure them that they were in fact part of the team,” Bedford says. “We very much valued their contribution. They needed to manage and lead directly as opposed to waiting for us to tell them what to do.”

This effort takes time and Bedford says it has still hit a few speed bumps along the way.

“We’re clearly spending a lot more one-on-one time with employees to answer their questions so they understand that we are listening to them,” Bedford says. “We want them to see some measured change based on their feedback.”

Bedford says it’s a matter of building the trust and respect that everybody needs to truly feel part of a team and not like an outsider. That teamwork is important for the team itself but also for the way your employees interact with customers.

“Our employees are already working hard,” Bedford says. “But working hard is different than being passionate about what you do. A passionate employee is going to create that emotional connection with customers that we desire.”

Focus on your employees

It hasn’t always been easy, but little by little, the merger of Republic, Frontier and Midwest is working out. The company ended 2009 with $1.6 billion in revenue but already had $1.3 billion through the first six months of 2010.

“We’ve been putting up record load factors for the last five months, so it feels like customers have been sticking with us,” Bedford says.

The technology problem is nearing resolution and Bedford says the company’s cultures are continuing to come closer together.

The most important lesson he takes from the experience is that you need to focus on your employees first, even if it comes at the expense of your customers.

“Naturally our inclination is to focus on the customer first,” Bedford says. “I’d probably flip it and say focus on your employees first. If it means delaying your customer initiatives by 90 days, it’s probably 90 days well spent. Just get to the acquisition and start immediately focusing on answering the why question to the employees: Why are we here? How did we get here? Where are we going from here?

“One of the biggest mistakes we made in the acquisition process was we became so focused on the customer experience, so focused on fixing the technology challenges that we knew were leading to a bad customer experience, that the employee emotions and psychology and this nebulous concept of trust, we did not spend the time we probably should have to develop that trust.”

It’s a lesson learned that Bedford believes will be valuable going forward.

“When people understand the why of what we’re trying to accomplish and why we’re trying to accomplish it and why it’s so important that we do it better than others, they get pretty jazzed up about it,” Bedford says. “But then as a management team, you have to deliver the why.”

How to reach: Republic Airways Holdings Inc., (317) 484-6000 or www.rjet.com

Les Wexner felt very insecure about the opening of his first store. It was 1963 and the youngster, a son of Russian immigrants, had watched and learned from his parents’ tireless work ethic. He had worked in their small store named Leslie’s in downtown Columbus and gained the belief that anything in life is possible, if you are willing to work hard for it. And he was ready to launch a business of his own, but he wasn’t sure it was going to work.

He had no idea at the time that this single store would be the first piece of a business that would one day register more than $8 billion in annual sales and employ more than 92,000 people.

“I wasn’t sure it had any commercial value,” says Wexner, founder, chairman and CEO of Limited Brands Inc. “Then people started coming in and buying and I thought, ‘Gee, it was a pretty good idea.’ So I was curious to play with the idea. Some of it was right. Some of it was wrong. It became more proven from a customer point of view. I could make money and earn a living, and I was very happy, because I wasn’t going to be poor.”

Indeed, not. Limited operates more than 2,600 specialty stores across the United States and its brands are sold in more than 700 company-owned and franchised locations around the world.

“You have to be curious,” Wexner says. “People who are really curious have an enormous advantage. They’ve had it in the past. Curiosity and the ability to see things will be, as I look into the future, a higher and higher priority.”

Curiosity helped Wexner build a business that today comprises some of the most recognizable brands in the world. Bath & Body Works, White Barn Candle Co., La Senza, Henri Bendel and, of course, Victoria’s Secret are present in nearly every mall and shopping center one can think of.

“I had this idea about creating a lingerie business,” Wexner says. “People said, ‘You’re entitled to make a mistake, but it’s not a business. You can’t make money selling lingerie.’”

Victoria’s Secret generated $5.3 billion in 2009 sales, part of the company’s overall tally of $8.6 billion in sales companywide.

Wexner believes such success can be achieved when you realize that in addition to being a great leader, you need to be a great teacher.

 

Paint a clear picture

You could have the greatest idea in the world. But if you can’t share it with others, it will never amount to anything.

“Words matter,” Wexner says. “What’s clear in my mind’s eye in terms of imagining something, if I’m not real clear about my communication, you won’t understand what I’m really thinking in the fullest sense.”

Wexner has always had a sense of curiosity about what isn’t being done and what markets aren’t being tapped. But if he hadn’t been able to share those thoughts with others, he couldn’t have built his business by himself.

“I’m always fluent when I talk to myself,” Wexner says. “If you’ve got friends or a spouse or other people, there is the opportunity for confusion. An organization is just a large group. That gets to the subject of leadership. First, you have an idea. As the organization gets larger, you tend to discover what you know and don’t know about leadership.”

It’s your job to take those creative thoughts and curious personal discoveries and capture the most important aspect of it. At Limited Brands, it’s known as the main thing.

It reads: The main thing is the main thing is the main thing.

“It’s easy in an organization, just as in a family or a community, for someone to drift off what the main things are.”

You need to paint a clear picture of your idea so that your people can see it, think about it and ask questions about it. The tricky part is, sometimes, you and your people think you’re talking about the same thing, but you’re really not.

“I really like chocolate,” Wexner says. “I’m imagining milk chocolate, and you like chocolate but you like dark chocolate. When I say I like chocolate, you go to what you’re thinking, not what I’m thinking.

“The tension in an organization is you want people thinking about what they are doing. They are not marionettes. You need the feedback from people to say, ‘Did you mean this or did you mean that?’ One of the things you learn as you are developing an organization is you say, ‘This is what I’m thinking and this is what I’m trying to get done.’ People say, ‘Yeah, I got it.’ And then you say, ‘Would you explain it back to me so that I know you really do understand?’”

There are brilliant minds who serve as teachers and professors and bring a great deal of worldly experience to the classroom. But if they are unable to convey it to their students, it’s useless.

It’s much the same way in business.

“You have to think about how you lead, not just what you know,” Wexner says. “I could know things technically, but I may not be able to lead. Good leaders, they see themselves as teachers. They have to know what it is they know. Then they have to get it to a teachable point of view.

It was an aspect of leadership that was a challenge for Wexner at first.

“You know and you’re telling people, but my frustration was they’re not learning,” Wexner says. “They said, ‘Well, you’re not teaching them.’ You have to see yourself more as a teacher. You have to be able to distill what it is you know and what you’re thinking, whether it’s the values of your organization or things about quality or products, into a point of view where you can teach it. Part of teaching is for you to have a clarity of what it is and why. If I just tell you something and I can’t give you the reason, I don’t think it’s nearly as effective.”

 

Know it before you speak it

Wexner is hardly resting on his laurels after nearly 50 years in business. Limited Brands announced this year that it will open a Victoria’s Secret flagship store in London in 2012. The company’s brands have also launched their own Facebook sites to better reach their clients.

Fresh ideas are the lifeblood of a business and help it continue to stay relevant with a changing world. But you need to make sure the change is a good fit for your company before you implement it.

“People come in and say, ‘I really like what you’re doing. I’d like to come work for you. I would change it all,’” Wexner says. “I would say, ‘Maybe they’re right. Maybe as good as this appears to me, maybe it could be infinitely better. But my intuition is that this is working. I don’t think I want to let a stranger play with it. I don’t want it to get broken. You have to earn the right.”

Wexner illustrates his point by hypothetically placing himself as a new employee at Apple. In this imaginary role, Wexner says he suggests that the company use different fruits each month on its products, beginning with a banana.

“I’m sure they want to hire people who are creative and imaginative and can advance the company, but they have to earn the right,” Wexner says. “Do they understand the brand, their business and the customer when they are making suggestions? If they are seeing the world differently, is it in the context of something?”

The lesson is that in staying fresh, you can’t just hop on board any idea that is brought to your attention, just because it’s new and different. The idea has to be delivered with the context of organizational knowledge.

“I kind of like my own ideas, but have I really earned the right to have this idea?” Wexner says. “It may mean, ‘Well, it’s an idea. But I want to reflect on it.’ Sometimes I will argue against it. ‘I really like this idea, but if it failed, why would it fail? How would somebody else do it? How would a competitor deal with this?’

“I want to get other views. I could ask, ‘What do you think of it? What do you think of this idea? Help me critique it.’”

You need to have thoughtful people bringing you ideas and thoughtful people who can serve as a check against ideas that you get from outside your organization that just may not be a good fit for you.

“If I think Apple ought to be fruit of the month and next month it should be a banana, I’d like somebody to say, ‘You’ve lost your mind,’” Wexner says. “You don’t want people just sucking up and saying, ‘Yes, boss.’ They have to earn the right, and I think it’s an individual and a collective thing to judge.”

You need to spend time talking to your people about your business. Initiate conversations about where both you and they see your industry going to help stay tuned in to what your company needs to do to keep up.

“What do you do after everybody owns a hula hoop?” Wexner says. “It’s an easily copied idea. Successful people in their careers, whether they are entrepreneurs or working in enterprise, think about their own evolution and advancement in a way that they are always saying, ‘What if the dogs don’t eat the food? What if everybody had a hula hoop? What do we do next?’ Then they are able to extend their success.”

Despite all of the success he’s had, Wexner operates with a growing fear that his next idea won’t work.

“It’s probably just in my nature, but the more successful something is, the more successful I am, the greater the fear of failure,” Wexner says. “The more successful a product or a brand is, the greater the fear of failure.”

Every new idea that became great probably had quite a few people questioning whether it would ever work.

“Change implies taking a different tact,” Wexner says. “Most people will reject that new idea or a fair number will reject that new idea, because you’re describing an animal they’ve never seen.”

Wexner brings up the idea of people being willing to spend several dollars for a cup of coffee.

“We’re going to sell this product at a premium price, three or four times what anybody else sells a cup of coffee for,” Wexner says. “You’d say, ‘That’s the craziest damn idea in the world.’ But, in essence, you’re describing Starbucks.”

You need to constantly be asking yourself whether what you’re doing now is working for tomorrow.

“The world is always changing and you have to be sensitive to that,” Wexner says. “Whether it’s channels of distribution or the products you sell or how you organize or how you think. If you don’t keep that flexibility, you obsolete yourself.” 

HOW TO REACH: Limited Brands Inc., (614) 415-7000 or www.limitedbrands.com

With the economy showings signs of taking another dive, you’ve decided it’s time to hold a town-hall meeting with your employees. It’s a good way to communicate, but you’ll do more harm than good if you load up the agenda with too many topics.

“If there are five or six things to discuss, you’ve waited too long,” says Michael Perlmuter, managing principal at the 53-employee Cedar Brook Financial Partners LLC.

“In my previous career, I was a trial lawyer. So I have a little experience getting up in front of people and speaking. When I spoke to a judge or a jury, I believed that there were two or three key messages that you want to leave the audience remembering.”

When you’re leading a business through a challenging economy, it may seem like you could hold a town-hall meeting every day and still not cover everything you want to talk about with your people. But if that’s how you feel, you’re not taking the right approach.

“There is such a thing as information overload,” Perlmuter says. “You lose your effectiveness if you stand up every third day. People say, ‘I’m not learning anything. I’m not getting anything out of these meetings. I’m not going to show up.’”

Take the time to boil it down to two or three things that really matter to your people. Focus on those select topics and make sure people leave the meeting with a good understanding of them.

For Perlmuter, that means getting everything that he wants to say down on paper before he says it.

“Just because something is scripted doesn’t mean it isn’t from the heart,” Perlmuter says. When you don’t get your thoughts on paper, you tend to drift from one area to another and you end up creating less clarity and more confusion.

“When you stray from the three key messages you want to leave your clients or professionals with, people walk away from the meetings with more questions than they came to them with,” Perlmuter says.

As important as being concise is, you also need to strive for consistency in terms of how you speak to your people and the tone you use to speak to them.

“When an organization has a manager who is overreactive, the whole organization becomes yo-yo-like and volatile,” Perlmuter says. “The employees are tiptoeing around the organization because they are not sure what the next day is going to bring. Where there is an organization with consistency of message and culture, the employees have a much more comfortable feeling that everything is going to be fine on a day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month and year-to-year basis.”

You need to keep in mind that your people are looking to you for information, but they’re also looking to you for cues on how to feel and how to behave. Your best bet is to try to maintain an even keel and stick to what you do best.

“When events happen when you’re young, they seem to be catastrophic and they seem to be world changing,” Perlmuter says. “As you get older, events happen and you say, ‘This happened two years ago, four years ago, six years ago. … Let’s not get caught up in the noise. Let’s look at the plan. Are we on track to accomplish that plan? If we are, fantastic. If not, what changes are we going to make now to get us back on track to meet that plan?’”

Perlmuter likens it to the approach that Cedar Brook takes with its clients to help them map out their financial futures.

“Everything we do here is goal-based,” Perlmuter says. “If things are not goal-based, you can’t tell whether the action is good or bad. If you don’t know where you’re going, it doesn’t matter which way you go. You have to know where you’re taking the business. Once you know, you can make a determination if the action you’re taking furthers it or not.”

Explain yourself

Michael Perlmuter can’t give a client great service at Cedar Brook Financial Partners LLC if he doesn’t know what that client is looking for. But the 53-employee firm’s managing principal says many companies in the financial services industry try to do it anyway.

“The worst thing a financial adviser can do is have a client walk in the door with a check for $1 million and say, ‘I’ll take this money, and I’ll invest it, and I’ll tell you what happens next week,’” Perlmuter says. “That’s the worst thing they can do, but that’s how the majority of our industry works.”

So what’s the leadership lesson in all of this? It’s the fact that you need to do more than just tell your employees what to do. You need to explain to them why they are doing it and what the end result should be.

“If you walk around and people raise questions or raise concerns and they never hear back from you, they are going to stop raising issues,” Perlmuter says. “They are just going to say, ‘Everything is fine because I’m wasting my time voicing my concern anyhow.’”

So what’s the right way to handle a client with $1 million?

“Say to them, ‘I can’t invest this money until we have a meaningful conversation about your goals, your desires and where you want to be in one year, five years, 10 years or 20 years,” Perlmuter says.

Explain yourself

Michael Perlmuter can’t give a client great service at Cedar Brook Financial Partners LLC if he doesn’t know what that client is looking for. But the 53-employee firm’s managing principal says many companies in the financial services industry try to do it anyway.

“The worst thing a financial adviser can do is have a client walk in the door with a check for $1 million and say, ‘I’ll take this money, and I’ll invest it, and I’ll tell you what happens next week,’” Perlmuter says. “That’s the worst thing they can do, but that’s how the majority of our industry works.”

So what’s the leadership lesson in all of this? It’s the fact that you need to do more than just tell your employees what to do. You need to explain to them why they are doing it and what the end result should be.

“If you walk around and people raise questions or raise concerns and they never hear back from you, they are going to stop raising issues,” Perlmuter says. “They are just going to say, ‘Everything is fine because I’m wasting my time voicing my concern anyhow.’”

So what’s the right way to handle a client with $1 million?

“Say to them, ‘I can’t invest this money until we have a meaningful conversation about your goals, your desires and where you want to be in one year, five years, 10 years or 20 years,” Perlmuter says.

How to reach: Cedar Brook Financial Partners LLC, (440) 683-9200 or www.cedarbrookfinancial.com

 

When Claudio MuruzÁbal needed to expand Neoris to reach U.S. consumers beyond its Miami headquarters, he started with the most important element: his people.

His biggest challenge was not selling the company’s broad range of IT and business consulting services. Rather, it was his ability to build a team that bought in to his plan on how to do it and then use that team to carry out the plan and grow the business.

“It is always about building the right team,” MuruzÁbal says. “That’s the No. 1 challenge you have. Until you put together the right team, you’re really not responding to the challenge.”

MuruzÁbal needed his 3,000 employees to get out and sell Neoris to new clients and do it with complete credibility.

“You need to be able to put in front of your clients people that have the credibility to describe the offering and that have done it before,” MuruzÁbal says. “Until you have that team, you’re not in business. You’re really trying to promote something you have, but you don’t have an offering that can take you from presale to delivery to execution to being a successful player in the marketplace.”

He had to do more than just allow his team the freedom to go do things. He had to have a team that would be strong enough to bring its own ideas to the dialogue and occasionally challenge the leader’s beliefs.

“It’s having a team that is strong enough to put on your table the ideas that would really help you change your company,” MuruzÁbal says. “It’s empowering them in the other direction. It is your team members really impacting the decisions you have to make as a leader and having the space and latitude to do that. When you reach that point, you are really empowering your organization. Otherwise, it’s just delegation of authority.”

Start the dialogue

MuruzÁbal began his effort by laying out his plan for expanding his foothold in the U.S. to his employees. He explained that Neoris was in a great position to gain business in the United States and bring its brand of excellent service to a new batch of customers.

“It was trying to take advantage of the skill sets and the strength of traditional onshore consulting with the fact that we had very capable talent south of the U.S. border in the same time zone with a culture proximity to the U.S.,” MuruzÁbal says.

It’s a simple, perhaps even an obvious step. But you can’t just assume that your employees will understand what you want to do. Show them a level of respect by giving them a rundown of what you want to do and why you want to do it.

“You have to put your people first,” MuruzÁbal says. “There’s no way you’ll have clients who are delighted with the work or the value that you provide if you don’t focus on delighting your own employees first. This is an old way of thinking, but it’s still true to me. Satisfied employees drive satisfied clients drive satisfied shareholders.”

Get the dialogue started and demonstrate to your people that you want their thoughts and ideas on how to give your plan an even better chance to succeed.

“It’s more like everybody chipping in and providing their ideas and support and recommendations and even their personal networks from past experiences to try to make things happen,” MuruzÁbal says. “It’s not a one-way leadership decision. It’s the whole team coming in and supporting it.”

The more questions you address at the beginning and the more time you give to shaping your plan, the fewer misunderstandings you’ll have to deal with at the end.

“You would typically hear that strategy comes first and then building the team that can execute the strategy comes second,” MuruzÁbal says. “But sometimes you tailor your strategy based on the talent you can capture and identify in the marketplace. Sometimes the people you have play a big impact on how you define what you want to do in the marketplace.”

What you’re really doing is demonstrating confidence that you can make your plan happen. But you’re mixing in a dose of humility to show that you can’t do it all alone.

“You don’t want to present yourself as if you always have the right answer and you always know what you have to do,” MuruzÁbal says. “It’s incredible the value of asking for help and showing that you might have some doubts. We all have doubts. It’s worth asking people, ‘How do you feel about this idea?’ We as leaders have a tough time doing that because we feel we’ve lost strength if we do that and we lose faith in front of our people. I just believe you have to do a little bit of that if you want to be a true leader.”

In the case of Neoris, the launching of a dialogue about entry into the U.S. market was reassuring to employees. It demonstrated, as they had seen in previous market entries in Europe and the Middle East, that they would be included when it came time to launch a new initiative.

“You have a lot of people looking at what you’re doing,” MuruzÁbal says. “You need to make sure in every single thing, internal or external, you’re consistent. You’re aligned with the strategic direction and with a strategy that has been described.”

Keep reaching out

So what’s the best way to reach out to your people and get useful feedback? How do you make everyone feel as though they’re part of the process when you have 3,000 employees?

MuruzÁbal wanted all of his employees to feel like they were part of the plan to bring Neoris to the United States, but he clearly couldn’t set up a one-on-one conversation with each of them.

He suggests setting up smaller forums of 10 to 15 people to talk about important aspects of your plan. The key to making them work is to keep them as informal as possible.

“If you bring more structure to the model, you start losing some of the freshness that you need,” MuruzÁbal says. “You want to make it very informal, to the risk of using a term that is used a lot, like coffee with the leader. You want to feel that the person you are talking to is somebody that you can relate to, for the employees to relate to their leader.”

Don’t handpick people to take part in these forums. Make it known that you’re going to be available for a small-group discussion at a certain time, but stay away from making specific invitations to participate.

“You need to make sure there are random nominations,” MuruzÁbal says. “You need to make sure they are either people who want to be there or that they are participating on a random basis. It’s not people that their managers believe should be there. That’s the first element that would make the whole program not work. Then you need to set up the rules very quickly saying that this is a conversation. Every comment is acceptable. The only request is that you don’t monopolize the conversation.”

The key is to keep the conversations informal while making it clear that you really value the feedback that is generated from them. It’s valuable to you to know what they are thinking and it’s valuable to them since they’ll be out there representing your company to your clients.

It was valuable to MuruzÁbal to keep everyone apprised with the launch of the U.S. market.

“You need to spend time listening to what your peopl e are telling you about what they are doing and what is important to them,” MuruzÁbal says. “You need to be empathetic. You need to put yourself in their shoes instead of asking them to put themselves in your shoes.”

Keep the lines open

You also need to make it clear to the people who are participating in these forums that you’d really appreciate it if they’d spread the word about what they thought and heard in the forum.

“There’s another request we always make,” MuruzÁbal says. “Whatever you heard here, help us take the message to the rest of the organization. It would be great if we could do this with every single employee, but when you have more than 3,000, it’s difficult to do it. So those of you who have the opportunity to sit at this table, I would really appreciate it if you could take this message across. The message is we want to hear you. We’re looking for ideas.”

When you leave the meeting, don’t just say, “Thanks for participating.”

“When there is a true follow-up, that really counts,” MuruzÁbal says.

It was during one of these sessions that MuruzÁbal got great insight into peer networks that were being set up at Neoris. Such networks are a great help to the company in every market, including the new venture in the United States.

“We have a lot of talented people that know many technologies and concepts in detail,” MuruzÁbal says. “We create these peer-to-peer networks organized by leaders in the business based on their expertise, not their position in the company. They interact and they help each other and you get to improve the knowledge of a given area of expertise.”

By encouraging dialogue in the first place, the peer networks were able to flourish and help give MuruzÁbal an even better means of spreading communication around the organization.

And a free flow of communication where there is occasionally a mixed signal is much better than a company where dialogue is hampered and even discouraged.

“I prefer to have a conversation and run the risk of having an interpretation issue than not having the conversation at all,” MuruzÁbal says. “There’s always a risk somebody will interpret something in a different way and will go and talk to a third party and describe something that he or she thought they heard. I prefer to deal with that.”

In an open culture, you’ll find out about the discrepancy a lot quicker than if you try to control everything.

“If you have a command-and-control organization, you never learn about that,” MuruzÁbal says. “Nobody is going to get back to you and say, ‘Hey, you said such-and-such thing in such-and-such environment. Is that what you really meant?’ It gives you the opportunity to go back and fix it if there was a misunderstanding. I prefer that instead of no communication.”

The open way in which MuruzÁbal approaches change paid off again with the Neoris entry into the United States. The company generated more than $300 million in revenue in 2009.

“We’ve attracted premier talent from the market and our highest expectations for growth are from the U.S. market,” MuruzÁbal says. “We were new to the market and we were able to make it happen.”

It wasn’t always easy and there were certainly bumps along the way. But MuruzÁbal says it’s the only way he knows how to operate.

“Live what you are trying to accomplish on a daily basis,” MuruzÁbal says. “There’s always going to be a certain percentage of people who don’t believe. There’s a lot of opportunity in this world, so maybe that’s not the right company for those people. This is a strong, detailed, management-focused culture that happens to pay attention to the fact that the talent that you have in your organization is what makes the difference. You need to make sure you get the best out of your people and the way to do that is to allow them to speak up, contribute and help us build the future.”

How to reach: Neoris, (305) 728-6000 or www.neoris.com

Scott Moorehead saw his future and it was freaking him out. He was only 17, but his parents were already talking about the day that he would take the reins at Moorehead Communications Inc.

“I was all kinds of scared,” Moorehead says. “I showed up to work the first day and I had no idea what to expect. It was pretty nerve-wracking to be honest.”

His parents started the cellular retail business back in the early 1990s and opened their first store in Marion, where the company’s corporate offices are today. They were sure their boy was up to the challenge of one day leading the business. They were a lot more confident than Scott, as it turned out.

“Being that young and not really understanding much about business and management and watching the company grow from afar knowing that I was going to be the heir to the throne was more pressure than I was willing to deal with at the time,” Moorehead says. “From afar, you just think, ‘I’m it. I’m the guy. Everybody is screwed if I stink at this.’ At least, that’s what you think.” Fortunately for Moorehead, his parents saw something in him that they knew would one day serve him well as president and CEO of the 830-employee company, which does business as The Cellular Connection. And so they set out to develop that potential, one day at a time.

“The big part of that was I was never given too much, too soon,” Moorehead says. “You’re unaware of it at the time, but as you look back, you kind of see what the plan was. It was always enough for me to handle. Enough to keep me challenged, but enough to handle. As I kept getting more and more responsibility and learning new aspects of the business and seeing it from different angles, I continued to succeed.”

The experience gave Moorehead a wealth of insight into what it takes to develop leaders and how to do it with the right mix of support and constructive criticism. He took over as president and CEO in November 2008, and in 2009, he led the company to $191.2 million in revenue, the company’s best year ever.

His training taught him that developing an individual to lead is about determining what drives that person to overcome challenges and fear and then presenting a path to achieve success.

Look for passion

You’ve got to find out what the person you’re training is made of. That doesn’t mean turning into a drill sergeant and torturing him or her until he or she can’t take it anymore. Rather, it’s providing opportunities to see what kind of energy the person has for getting things done in the demanding world of leadership.

“You have to make sure that they have passion for what they are doing, no matter how good you think they are,” Moorehead says. “If they don’t care and don’t believe in it, they are not going to be a leader in your company. It’s not worth your time and it’s not worth theirs.”

It’s a different ballgame when you’re actually in charge of something and you need to know whether this person you’re considering has what it takes to be a leader.

“If you feel like they’ve got the passion and they don’t have the confidence yet, you have to find out what drives them,” Moorehead says. “If you find out what drives them, then you can play to that. If you find out what drives them, it’s easy to find out how to motivate them.”

Moorehead remembers his own soul-searching exercise quite clearly.

“I started work with two guys,” Moorehead says. “They gave me a shovel, drew some lines and they told me to start digging a trench. And they left. We were supposed to be a crew and they left me with a shovel and I dug that trench. I worked for six straight hours, no breaks, no water, no lunch. I didn’t know what to do. I just worked because that’s what I had always done. They got back and I was finished with that trench.”

Maybe you don’t have a trench for your leader-in-training to dig. You may not even have a specific situation in mind to serve as a good test. But you have to give the person challenging situations to deal with and see how they react in order to test their mettle for being a leader.

Those types of challenges also provide an opportunity for people to show what they’ve got to their peers and earn the respect that they need to lead.

“Earning their respect versus demanding it,” Moorehead says. “That was the key. I never demanded their respect. I always chose to earn it. … Just working with these people day in and day out and continuing to prove every day that I was their leader.”

That’s the type of attitude you need in a leader and you need to give them opportunities to show it.

“It was absolutely every single day showing up and learning something new and talking to somebody different and taking on a new challenge,” Moorehead says.

The key is to be gradual about presenting challenges to your up-and-comers.

“As I kept getting more and more responsibility and learning new aspects of the business and seeing it from different angles, I continued to succeed,” Moorehead says. “They never let me move on to a different angle or aspect or position until I had a lot of success where I was at. It was never too much too soon. If they would have taken me from digging holes to being the CFO, it would have been a much different story.”

By taking a more gradual approach, with a few tougher character tests mixed in, you help the person gain confidence.

“You can feel yourself every passing day and every passing meeting, every time you pass somebody in the hallway and have a discussion, gaining confidence and learning more about what needs to be done,” Moorehead says, referring to the mindset of a trainee. “Then it’s getting out and reaffirming in the field the things that you have done.”

Work together

You need to find a way to work with the person you’re training and see what type of support and tutelage he or she is looking for from you to help his or her growth. So how you do know what works?

“One good way is to ask,” Moorehead says. “It’s not always management by manipulation. Sometimes management by communication works much better. You can’t ever go wrong with honesty. If I come to you as an employee and say, ‘Do you want me to check in with you every week? Or would you prefer that we meet up in the afternoons for a little while?’ I feel like they will probably tell you. Then I think it’s easy to gauge whether what you’re doing is working. Sometimes I try to gauge it on my own, but I find I get the best answers when I ask.”

Moorehead had the advantage of having a closer relationship with his boss than most since he was working for his father. But in a typical boss/employee relationship, sometimes all it takes is starting a conversation about what’s working and what’s not working.

“There’s success and failure every day, and when the failures start to become a lot more than the successes, it’s time to take a break and figure out what’s going on,” Moorehead says. “Just stay consistent with the amount of feedback. If you’re going to give somebody feedback every time you talk, make sure you give them feedback every time you talk. If you’re going to do a quarterly review, don’t start it and then stop it. Consistency is the key.”

Moorehead says one of the keys in his own development was the tone of the feedback from his father didn’t change when he made a mistake. He was given the opportunity to talk about it and work to find his own solution.

“It means giving you the chance to come up with your own plan, to talk through the fix and to accept fair criticism and then execute the next plan on your own,” Moorehead says.

“What it didn’t mean was, ‘Scott, that was a terrible idea. I’m really disappointed that you thought of it and it didn’t work out. Here’s how you’re going to go fix it. Do this.’ I would have felt dejected right out of the gate because it was my idea and I failed. Then all of a sudden you become scared to try. You’re a yes-man. ‘Yes sir, whatever you say, sir.’ I wanted a little bit of a say in what I thought went wrong and he allowed me to do that. That’s the key.”

If you’re not consistent with feedback and demonstrating a reliable attitude of, ‘Let’s work through this together,’ you create doubt.

“That’s when the doubt starts to form,” Moorehead says. “What am I doing wrong? Why has my boss changed the way they are managing me? What have I done? They would assume it’s something they did or that a decision has been made that they don’t know about. If you push too much, your employee or the person you’re grooming starts to worry that maybe they’re not making the right decisions. Whatever route you’re choosing for the person, stay consistent.”

Provide status reports

Moorehead was told that he was being groomed for the position of CEO, but that didn’t mean the job was just going to be given to him. He would have to earn it and prove he was ready for it.

That was a message his father made clear to other leaders in the company.

“Upper management was always given the right to ask a question at any time and get an answer,” Moorehead says. “If they wanted to know, ‘What’s the plan with Scott?’ Dad would tell them what the plan with Scott was. His plan was, ‘I think Scott is going to have the skill set to do this some day.’ He was clear with the fact some day it could be right. He was also clear with the fact that it was mine to screw up.

“He wasn’t going to empower the wrong person. That made people fairly comfortable. People see the transitions in families a lot and so many times you see it fail. They didn’t want the father to hand the son the keys when the son didn’t know what he was doing. He made it aware to all the top-level management that there was going to be no transition unless the time was right and the person was right.”

The fact that you’ve identified someone as having a future in your company as a leader puts a bit of pressure on you to see that it works out, even if the person you’re grooming isn’t your son.

So you need to be cautious in how you present your feedback to others on how the person you’ve selected is performing.

“Too much affirmation that this is the right person can look like you’re stretching it a little bit,” Moorehead says. “Too little may be perceived as the CEO doesn’t know if it’s the right person.”

In this type of communication, it again comes down to consistency. A little bit of structure can be helpful to you, your trainee and the people who can help you get your trainee ready.

“However you choose to do it, the amount of repetition that you’re going to use to give feedback or how you’re going to gauge how somebody is doing, stay consistent,” Moorehead says. “That’s part of what any CEO is. You have to understand where you want to go and then you have to have the people you want to take you there understand it clearly.”

But in the end, you can only do so much to help a person become a leader. It’s a lesson that doesn’t go away once you attain a leadership position.

“If you’re in a construction company, sometimes you have to pick up the hammer,” Moorehead says. “If you’re in a manufacturing company, sometimes you work the line. You have to work with your people and you have to let them have a voice. You have to show them that you have a passion for it. I don’t think anybody wants to follow a leader who doesn’t have a passion for what they are doing. At least I don’t.”

HOW TO REACH: Moorehead Communications Inc., (765) 651-2001 or www.ecellularconnection.com