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Thoughts for the C-Suite: Good decision? Bad decision? You’ll only know the truth of it when time catches up

Published by CME Manitoba on June 19, 2017

By Kevin Lusk, CME Advanced Manufacturing & Senior Executive Leadership Champion

Good Decision? Bad Decision?  

Every C-Suite leader has feelings, opinions and usually a management team and reams of data behind them. The fact is, the future ignores it all. One of the more challenging jobs as the C-Suite occupant/ leader is to focus on the long run regardless how hard the marketing, the team push and momentary opportunity surrounding us encourages us to fall prey to aiming at instant success targets. 

While a bad decision can be bad because we're uninformed or intentionally blind; it’s often bad because we’re swayed by short-term gain and ignore the long-term implications. As odd as it may seem, more often than not, bad decisions often start out feeling pretty good. This is usually because in the short run it’s been heartfelt by someone (maybe you) or some part of the management team who meant well. The success or failure gap becomes apparent only when we get to the long run, when time catches up. From bitter experience of some decisions I’d like to have back, believe me, time does always catch up. With the retrospective focus time brings, one can see that bad decisions usually happen for one of two reasons:

1. You're in a huge hurry because the opportunity or need is time sensitive. That quote was unexpected, that business opportunity opened up because a competitor failed, marketing found an instant new opportunity if we only change our product ‘just a little”. As a result, you can't (or won’t) process all the incoming information properly in order to make a reasoned decision that will avoid the “shoulda, woulda, coulda” visions that inevitably come into play in retrospective time examination. To be sure, not all short term decisions are bad, but if ill advised, they can certainly impact both the future direction and longer term opportunity maneuvering room of the company.

2. More common is the real C-Suite worry. The realization that the repercussions of your decisions won't happen for months or years. For good or ill, you’ve set the path for the company. It’s amazing how the truth of time changes the way we see things as the company moves forward.

As C-Suite occupant what drives you? Short-term profits? Long-term gain? Corporate greatness? Excellence? Henry Ford was an interesting C-Suite occupant. Every time Ford increased the productivity of car production (in one three-year period, labor costs were lowered by 66 per cent per car), he also raised wages. Ford did it not merely because it's the right thing to do, but because well-paid workers had more to spend on houses, on clothes, and of course, on cars. He was visionary and saw that you can't shrink your way to greatness, even though, in the short term, you might gain more cash. When you enable your workers (and your customers) to do more, connect more, produce more and get paid more, you create a positive system. His goal wasn’t to clear the financial table. His goal was to set the table for bigger opportunities and success. Time proved him right. 

What about you? What is your table set for? When time catches up what will the post-mortem review say about your leadership and short-term opportunity versus long-term decisions? When C-Suite leaders are replaced, it’s usually about how well their decisions have stood the test of time (or not) and as a result, where they took the company.  

CME has many resources, programs and strengths that can help you as C-Suite occupant with short and long-term balance. One of the fastest growing CME programs is the Leadership Development Program facilitated by John Graham. It’s targeted at better development of company frontline leaders. The workshop covers five days and teaches your frontline leads and supervisors how to better employee engage, to mentor, and to solve problems. Whatever decisions you make from the C-Suite, when time catches up, the decision you’ve made will be only as good as your implementation capability. As a CME member you might call CME, and enroll a few of your leaders. The next course starts Sept 6. 

Found in: Leadership C-suite

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