Leadership: It’s Hard To Be Ahead Of The Pack
Running a business for 10 years made me both a risk taker and very cautious. Caution usually comes cemented in you when you start running a business, but becomes more refined as your intuition grows. Well, at least for most people.
The key is understanding that sometimes you just might be a little too cautious. That’s where risk-taking plays a part. In 2001, the Internet was barely noticeable. If you had a computer and a modem that moved at the speed of smell, then you might make purchases online. And that depended on there actually being Web sites with the products that you wanted.
Tony Bradshaw, our VP of all things Internet, was telling us how we needed to start building up our Web site and selling more products online. We were definitely heading that way soon, he said. Many of our P&L leaders, including me, remember thinking, Tony, Tony, Tony, Tony. This Internet thing isn’t going anywhere fast. In the amount of time it takes your modem to dial-up and connect, you can purchase a small country over the phone.
I didn’t want to spend a ton of money beefing up a Web site to sell my Live Event tickets when I was already paying a customer care team who was actually SELLING! It won’t go anywhere!
Well, do I have to tell you just how right we were? OK, maybe the Internet did take off a little. In fact, more than 60% of our business is now done online. Maybe Tony was onto something.
When Melissa Fuller came to me wanting my team to start blazing a trail with Twitter and Facebook, I was quite reluctant. I couldn’t see how either was going to help our cause. In fact, neither was really moving much at the time. But then, I remembered what happened when Tony wanted us to get a jump on that…Internet thingy, and I wasn’t about to be the one holding back progress.
At that time, our company wasn’t doing much at all with either formats. In fact, we really just had one guy sending out stuff on his personal account. But Melissa’s zeal and tenacity were pushing me forward. I gave her room to do as much discovery as she could and bring me something tangible. She needed to show me how spending the time, effort and resources were going to grow our company.
Needless to say, she did. Melissa showed how we could use both platforms to build Tribes, before they were known as Tribes, who would push our message out to people who needed it. Not long after we started, we were getting traction. In fact it was so much, we were pushing the company boundaries. We hadn’t set procedures yet on how to do social media, but our continued drive, started by one woman’s passion, created a movement in our organization that led us to pretty much going full blast in the social media world.
Sometimes, we, as leaders, are the ones coming up with the incredible ideas that keep us ahead of the pack. But after 20 years of leading people, I’ve discovered the brain power and ideas of a team are usually stronger than a leaders. Don’t be the one keeping your team from leading the pack.
Question: Has there been a time you were too cautious and regretted it later?
- Interview with Melissa Fuller [Video] (ChrisLoCurto.com)