Necessary and sufficient

During tough times, perks and extras are not essential commodities within a business. Most companies can survive just fine without excess travel, extravagant client entertainment and exorbitant executive bonuses. But no business can succeed without a strong sense of leadership.

This is especially true for manufacturers, which often get hit the hardest during a recession.

“Leadership is critical,” says Dick Zalack, president of Focus Four/Results Plus, a strategic planning and management coaching firm. “One of the most difficult things a business owner must do is give up the rowing and start steering.”

It happened at LTV as the steel maker spiraled to the ground and it happens at other, more fortunate, manufacturers when they find themselves negatively affected by economic times.

Sometimes, says Zalack, it’s just time to re-evaluate the state of leadership in the company and, if it’s found lacking, determine how to improve it.

You can do this yourself, he says. Simply examine what your role as leader is in your organization and determine if you’re “doing business or building one.”

“There is a difference between directing and delegating,” says Zalack. “As business owners you have to spend time steering labor … (planning for the future) and less time rowing (selling and producing).”

And, if a leader isn’t in there, with shirtsleeves rolled up, managing the details, what can be done?

“There are three parts to leadership,” Zalack explains. “To create vision, to create a team, and to create opportunity in terms of sales.”

Vision and creativity are crucial, Zalack says. But it’s just as important to keep focused on your approach to leadership within your company.

“Only those things that make you money, that comes from your skills and input, should remain your responsibility,” he says.

That means the actual manufacturing process should be left up to your staff and employees. Overseeing the big picture and determining your company’s path should you be your job. It sounds simple, Zalack says, but for many hands-on leaders it is one of the hardest things for a manager to execute.

How to reach: Focus Four/Results Plus, (330) 225-0707.