If we operate 100% of our career in the black, we never get the growth opportunities that only occur in the red. I know that may be contrary to Wall Street or even your street, but there is something to be said about the valleys as well as the peaks. If the only training ground we have is at peak level, we’ll never be prepared for even the slightest of valleys.
So why do so many people running projects run scared at the possibility of seeing red; or even seeing a little pink? Some won’t even utter the words “at risk” until it’s almost too late to do anything about it; even worse, they change the “requirements” to keep the project from going red. No one wants to run below par, but changing the rules doesn’t fix the problem. I’ve never understood that concept. If something is broken or if more information is required, what is it in our business society that keeps people from telling the whole truth and working through the issues? Is it fear? Is it pride? Is it stupidity? Maybe it is a combination of the three.
However, I’ll say it again, if you don’t have sufficient practice in the “reds,” you won’t have what it takes to climb to the highest “blacks.” To become a great leader means you have to be able to adapt and overcome to just about any situation—this goes for being a leader in your home to being a leader in your company to being a leader in your community. It’s good to have a healthy dose of nail-biting uncertainty every now and again, but when faced with a downhill slippery slope, there are three simple steps to reporting and righting the red.
- identify the issues (all of them—large or small)
- ask for the right help from every source (up or down the ladder)
- allow the people who have solutions solve the problems
It may sound oversimplified, but in 2003 DirecTV suffered four years of losses only to achieve a $4.9 billion gain in 2009. They weren’t afraid to ask the right questions and get the right help. Their strategy may have entailed a bit more than simply identifying, asking and allowing, but that was the basic premise of their turnaround. If it worked for DirecTV, it can work for you.
Part of the problem is that people try to make it more complicated than it has to be. Simple is good. Three easy steps are good. Identify, ask, allow. These steps work well in all of our business matters and relationships, especially when we’re in the red—and my favorite power shoes? They’re red, too!