What did the recession teach you?

“[As an entrepreneur], you should be terrified of your success.”  Jim Collins

Celebrating their 10th Anniversary this year, CBI Group has had their share of successes and some struggles too.  They’re back on an upward trajectory, but like many businesses, the recession hit them (and their industry – human resource consulting, staffing and recruiting) hard.

Chris Burkhard, the CEO and Founder, learned a lot through the experience, especially about Leadership and the role of the CEO.  As many CEO’s and business leaders have discovered, our biggest learnings often come from our mistakes.  But only if we take the time to learn from them and do things differently going forward.  Then, they can truly be an impetus for change and accelerate our growth and the growth of our businesses.

Chris’ mistake a few years ago?

In his own words, “Not getting out from behind my desk and ‘getting in the mix’ when the crisis loomed.  I fell into the trap that a lot of entrepreneurs do of wanting to grow faster than my operation and people could support.  It’s what Jim Collins calls the sin of hubris in a growing company.    I was proud to have grown, to be big enough to have things like an org chart and ‘check off that box’.”

He smiles, then adds, “I made the mistake of confusing org chart responsibility with being the owner of the business.  It’s my name on the loan documents.  As the CEO of a small and growing business, you don’t get to ‘let go’.”

Chris now knows a lot more about himself than he did in 2008.  He’s especially learned about being a good leader.

“I define leadership differently now.  Delegating is important BUT I’m entitled to regular update meetings from the people to whom I delegate.  And I can’t delegate without being clear about what’s expected from each of my team AND not being afraid to ask the right questions.  In a constructive way, of course, to help them to think through what they’re trying to accomplish and at the same time, hold them accountable to their responsibilities.  It’s a VERY big learn for me.”

He adds, “Having vision is one thing but don’t confuse leadership with being the visionary on the mountain.  You can’t abdicate responsibility for your company – or your employees.”

A great learning from an Enlightened Executive…and hopefully one that other CEO’s and business leaders can profit by.

So what have YOU learned in the past couple of years?  What has the recession taught you?

Feel free to drop me a line…

And, if you recognize that YOU might need to do things differently and want to profit from some of YOUR mistakes, sign up for our “Rockefeller Habits Four Decisions Executive Workshop” – coming in December.  And get you and your team aligned and on course for a successful and profitable 2012!

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