There are many small tales within the long arc of your company’s story. Business leaders find adversity and opportunity within each. However, it may not be clear in the moment what you’re facing — whether you’re facing ruin, or success you couldn’t have previously imagined.
Patience and trust are two traits that can help business leaders persevere when their business tactics lead to what might appear at the time to be a dead end. It means trusting yourself, but also trusting your process — working through challenges without overreacting and trusting your abilities and the operating principles you’ve established to navigate uncertainty. And when it comes to trusting the process, one example from the sports world comes to mind.
When Philadelphia 76ers General Manager Sam Hinkie took control of the team’s roster-building responsibilities in 2013, the emphasis wasn’t on making a big job-preserving splash right away; it was on long-term success. Hinkie prioritized accumulating assets that would eventually bring in a superstar player that could turn the team’s losing record around. It meant trading talented players away to eventually land at or near the top of the draft. It also meant being a terrible basketball team. In the three seasons after Hinkie took the helm, the 76ers won 19, 18 and 10 games out of a possible 82.
Even after acquiring that superstar player, the emphasis was on being patient to ensure everything was right before making a push — after picking Joel Embiid in the 2014 draft, the team sat the player for essentially two years to allow him to fully recover from injuries.
Hinkie left the team in 2016, but the strategy paid off: In the 2017-2018 season, the 76ers won 52 games and began a streak of six playoff appearances that continues today.
The short-term pain of a loss in business — from a change of direction that didn’t work out, or a change in the market that you didn’t see coming — can lead to short-sighted adjustments that might just land the company in a more difficult situation. Patience and trusting in your process are key.
Learn everything you can about your challenging situation by researching the market and talking with customers — how have realities changed for them and how can you address them? Stay within your means, focus on quality and lean on the great people you’ve hired in your organization to help see you through. By putting your focus on the long term and trusting yourself, your colleagues and your process, you can lead your business through the low points of its story. Never give up hope. ●
Fred Koury is President and CEO of Smart Business Network Inc.