At the heart of the problems faced by many companies, is that the owner has so far avoided a Courageous Conversation.
Instead of identifying and exposing what's really going on, owners resort to analyzing the company's strategy, a debate that is often substituted as an alternative to confronting two primary questions.
Am I still in love with this business? What am I trying to achieve?
Entrepreneurs build extraordinary businesses when their talents meet their passion. When their passion fades, the business suffers.
Unless it has been built to thrive without them.
Most are not.
And when owners bury the real issues - consciously or sub-consciously - the interests of the company, its staff and ultimately the owners themselves are seriously damaged. Often permanently.
The situation is complicated a hundred-fold when a partnership is involved. Then, the absence of an exit strategy and an ownership transition plan becomes a noose from which many companies never escape.
A Courageous Conversation is needed when you see these conditions appear in combination:
- A business without a clearly defined Purpose.
- A partnership that used to work effortlessly but is now increasingly disjointed.
- Employees taking sides.
Employees smell lack of ownership interest instinctively. And even if you’re kidding yourself, you won’t kid your employees for very long. In the absence of a company Purpose, great employees will stick around in this economy only long enough for the unemployment numbers to start falling.
Sometimes, a Courageous Conversation results in a genuine re-commitment by the owners to the business. Madonna Badger of Badger and Partners and Jerry Solomon of Epoch Media talk about this on our website.
Other times, it highlights the divide, and requires the negotiation of a fair, equitable and practical separation. No small feat. And often hardest for close partners who tie themselves in knots trying to be reasonable at the expense of reality.
The good news is that Courageous Conversations are the fuel of empowerment. And liberation.
Two traits on which both companies and lives can prosper.
Note: The concept of the Courageous Conversation was brought to us by our newest
associate, Jamie Gutfreund.
Jamie was introduced to us by Dana Astrow, our first.
Their background and expertise speaks for itself. Their insight is extraordinary. Their enthusiasm infectious. We’re a much better business for having them be part of it.