Got uncertainty? Seven tips on how to eat it for lunch

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Editor's note: The following item appeared in the Sept. 28 edition of Dairy Exec, a monthly e-newsletter published by Dairy Herd Management.

All CEOs, regardless of industry, must make decisions without having as much information as they’d like. And they make decisions knowing that changes coming down the road likely will reframe the issue. Great CEOs battle the paralysis that comes with this knowledge using the following tools, says Marc Figueroa, vice president of brand communications for Vistage International, a global CEO membership organization that serves more than 15,000 business owners and executives.

  • Encourage your team to take down the monster. “I’m very open with my management structure. I brought (issues related to the downturn) to the table so everybody knew what was going on. Then (we developed) some strategies. Throughout it, (we tried) to maintain a perspective of ‘Here’s a challenge; let’s fight this monster and let’s take it down.’” — Dave “Rat” Levine, president, Rat Sound Systems Inc.
  • Be ready for any possibility. “Have contingency plans. If you’re on shaky ground, you would benefit from many legs.” — Aaron Mandelbaum, CEO, StyleQuest
  • Act as if you have a solution and game plan already in mind. “Your energy is exactly how your entire company will respond. So even if in this uncertain time you have no idea exactly how you’re going to pull this off, when anyone can see you, you’ve gotta have no sign of fear and no sign of doubt at all… Because everybody feeds off of your vibe and everybody goes off of your energy.” —Patti Regan, president and CEO, The Regan Group
  • Nurture open and honest communication. “Having just led a 50-employee company through a successful Chapter 11 reorganization and now an impending sale, I would say open, honest communication and the appropriate level of detail to all employees and stakeholders is key. If you don’t harness their energy and have their support, you’re sunk. If you have it, you at least have a fighting chance.” — Greg Hulsizer, CEO, South Bay Expressway L.P.
  • Don’t get caught up in external chaos. “If you’re a leader, things are going to happen that are going to be out of your control, and you have to control what you can control. People get caught up in conversations about the economy, and what the Fed’s doing, and what the president’s doing… but at the end of the day, when you’re running a business, you have to keep your eye on the ball, on the business.” — David Faye, CEO, Faye Business Systems Group Inc.
  • Have a clear and compelling vision. “Providing an inspiring and exciting vision of the future that defines the purpose behind the work is the key to leading, period. The companies that are growing today are doing so because they are about something larger than the products they make or the services they offer.” — Kari McNamara, founder and managing director, Ahead of the Curve
  • Check your ego at the door. “Get your ego out of the way. It really is key when it comes to uncertainty… and identifying or relying on a network of professionals who have seen it or done it and having the ability to allow yourself to accept their opinions or suggestions.” — Todd DeMann, CEO and chairman, Freshology Inc.


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