I have run four businesses that needed to be resuscitated. Out of that work, I wrote a book called Small Business Turnaround, published by Adams Media. I have been thinking about what I would advise President Barack Obama to do. My recommendations would fit businesses of any size.
The first thing I would tell any leader is that you aren't going to make everyone happy, and some people are going to feel a lot of pain. The pain will be so bad for some, you will feel heartless and question your own judgment. You will want to save everyone, but unfortunately you can't.
The only thing you can do is minimize the collateral damage and motivate the survivors to focus on a plan that the leader, executive team and board can get behind. You would think being the president of the United States or of any organization would automatically give you all the powers needed to make everyone follow your plan. People in a stressful situation want to be led, but they will follow only if they are listened to and included in helping to solve the problem.
Leaders have to get everyone's buy-in or they will be quietly undercut. Their effectiveness mitigated! Here is what the president should do.
1. Business plan: Every business needs a plan. The plan has to be one that either the company can afford, based on existing cash flow, or can raise because others see it as a potential revenue generator. In Obama's case, it is selling Treasurys to investors around the world who believe in his plan.
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