Archive for August, 2012

Have You Given Your Skills An Honest Self-Assessment?

August 30th, 2012 Comments off

     One of the more constant questions I’ve been asked over the last 5-years, as well as tabled with the candidates of various positions, is evaluating their skills and where they shine, as well as where they need improvement. The easy part in the interview process is professing to the depth of your skill set and how you’re a “roll up the sleeves team player” and you can operate in the trenches with the best of them. It’s another to actually deliver on that commitment, and what I view as a promise to a perspective new employer.

     A perfect example is the company that I have recently joined. I was probably asked no less than 6x if I “had any issues with doing non-CFO work”. Some of this “non-CFO” work might be HR-related, negotiating leases, and doing other administrative type work. Funny, from my perspective, which has always been the case if it affects the bottom line, it is CFO-related. If it’s going to affect the bottom line, especially in a start-up, I want to know about it.

  • I want to be involved in any long-term agreements that may affect our financial health.
  • I want to have a direct hand in offer letters. These are the financial commitments I can tie back to original financial projections. Does it support our stated mission?
  • I want to be involved in the implementation of our reporting system, whether that’s in Excel, Quickbooks, or SAP. I want to know where the holes are, as well as points of control.
  • I want to be involved in the set-up of all service-related vendors since these are the folks that will be our foundation for what will be accomplished in years to come.

     Going back to the original question of self-assessment, are you really ready to take on these tasks, work in a humbling and collaborative environment, that isn’t supported by multi-million dollar budgets and casts of hundreds, or even dozens. For me, it was an easy “Yes!”. It’s an exciting environment to be a part of, but you have to be honest in your ability to execute at that level. You have no individual firewalls, key support staff, or other vehicles to hide behind. You’re the guy that is front and center in the trenches and “fighting” with your team.

Have you given yourself and honest self-assessment and are you ready for that level of exposure?

Thanks for reading…

Jeffrey Ishmael

Shared Visions & Unified Teams…

August 14th, 2012 Comments off

Whether you’re working in the beginning stages of a start-up or a well-established global brand, there is no one element more important than ensuring the teams you’ve assembled have a clear understanding of the mission and the path to get there. Without that knowledge, you’re team will continue fumbling in only a general direction without the necessary strategic leadership to truly leverage the skills and resources of the team.

What is the multi-year growth plan for the company? How many different revenue channels are incorporated within that plan, and are your teams properly mobilized to execute? Have you actually shared the vision with the team, and more importantly, do you continue to revisit the company’s results against the blueprint that’s been put in place? It’s one thing to go through and present canned Power Point presentations to the various teams in the “spirit” of transparency, but it’s another to continue measuring the teams and their progress against those goals. It’s an even bigger effort and commitment to continue keeping the teams informed on the company’s results and the fine tuning that will invariably need to be done.

What is the current health of your company’s key accounts? Are any of those accounts faltering, and if so, have you brought the team together to discuss contingencies, since those key team members are the ones you’ve entrusted for the execution of a multi-year plan? As should always be expected, sales plans are a dynamic beast and change comes with every industry. Do you have a strong enough relationship with your teams to partner with them and make adjustments to the plan…or do you have the tendency to work side corridor deals, aware from the team, and perhaps not in the same arena as your key team members?

It’s easy to recognize competent and effective leadership when the screws get turned. Transparency is not a conditional situation. Transparency is a trait that you should strive for on a daily basis with the entire team. Transparency is the condition that may lead to conflict and tension, but will always result in trust being built within the team. Shared visions and unified teams are the true derivative of transparency.

Thanks for reading….

Jeffrey Ishmael