The March of Dimes is an amazing organization. It began as a way to raise awareness and money to combat polio. Once that was handled, they moved their focus to birth defects. I have deep admiration for what the March of Dimes does…seriously. Being completely inspired by what they have done over the decades, I think it’s time to begin a March of Quarters. There is a plague affecting CEOs worldwide and it’s high time we give it some quality air time.
Although this post is quite tongue in cheek, it carries more reality than what is helpful for most organizations. You see, the majority of CEOs (especially those of publicly held companies) are 3/4 blind. They are analyzing the daylights out of the previous quarter’s performance, stressing over this quarters numbers and scrambling to influence next quarter’s impact on the bottom line. It’s as if these three quarters (on a rolling cycle of course) are the only ones that seem to matter.
Strategy isn’t managed this way, nor are most key talent acquisitions. Those decisions are made with a few months, if not years, down the road in mind. This short-sighted approach has spawned innumerable decisions (or indecisions…to coin a word) that were knee jerk at best and a poor expression of organizational values/culture at worst.
This approach is done under the banner of stakeholder/stockholder satisfaction, but most investors are quite happy with a long-term sustainable profit strategy rather than immediate gratification that amounts to nothing more than a cleverly disguised act of patronage.
In the process of operating 3/4 blind, leadership stands the risk of seeming more about the money than supporting the folks that help make the money…everyone else in the organization. No one feels like they really matter. Leadership’s appreciation of them rises and falls with profits, so a crappy attitude of “why bother” develops quickly. The C-Suite is affected through talent changes and the cycle continues until someone has the courage to make the right decisions.
This doesn’t have to happen in only publicly traded companies. Owners and presidents of privately held companies can hold themselves to the same rigorous standards that many CEOs imagine stakeholders/stockholders hold them. They respond to that perceived expectation of performance and that drive to perform overrides good judgment and leadership in how they deal with their own people.
Leadership takes courage and this is no exception. Most boards can handle bad news as long as there is awareness and effort to move towards a strategy that shows improvement. It’s being blind-sided that no one appreciates…investors or employees. Bad news is a part of business just as much as the victories.
Let’s keep our organizations strong by giving people the freedom to do what they’re paid to do. There will be ups and downs and these cyclical swings shouldn’t diminish the value we place on the talent in our organizations. The downs are a great opportunity to build camaraderie and the ups are a great time to celebrate the value the talent in your organization brings to the table. Either way, you believe in your people and support them in what they do. Instead of starting the March of Quarters, let’s just take away the need for it altogether!