CEOs must always communicate, demonstrate confidence

Call it foolish, selfish or just plain dumb. The drone accident that seriously cut the pinky finger on the throwing hand of Cleveland Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer put the team in a bind. But it also demonstrated that when a leader communicates a plan that is coupled with a contagious, positive team attitude, success can still be achieved in the face of adversity.

In a pregame radio interview, Indians manager Terry Francona spoke of the plan he had shared with his team in the event that Bauer’s injury forced him out of the game.

With only two outs in the first inning, Bauer’s finger began to bleed profusely and Francona, with great calm and an upbeat attitude, guided the initiation of his plan. The team fed off Francona’s confidence, executed his plan and won the game, despite the overwhelming odds.

CEOs are constantly trying to anticipate the myriad changes in the market, customer expectation, material costs and shortages, supplier status and legal compliance requirements, among other things. What makes our analyses even more complex is that changes in these strategic drivers almost always happen in combinations, thus making plans to address them highly complex.

Experienced CEOs are able to develop appropriate plans that allow their companies to overcome the uncontrollable, external challenges they constantly face. The most successful of these leaders commit these challenges to paper.

Mine is a living, matrix-based document that often changes daily based on the ebb and flow of the issues at hand. As the potential issues move toward the more likely column in my matrix, I create a plan for them, which I begin communicating to our management group and ultimately to our entire team.

As we present and then execute plans to overcome these challenges, our management consciously displays the positive and high confidence we feel deep within our bones. Why? Because we know that all of our employees are watching us and will be guided by how we are acting.

Our obvious confidence infects our entire team with the spirit that by working as a close-knit unit, we will execute the most effective solutions to whatever we are facing.

If we all work together, we can turn the challenges into previously unattainable growth opportunities for our company. We remind our team that as we strive to be the best at planning for and proactively addressing each problem we encounter, we will maintain our strong competitive advantage over those companies who choose to wait and then react.

I must admit that I was in awe watching how Francona had his team ready to face any challenge that night. I admired how to a man, each was confident that their teammates were ready and able to do their part to ensure victory.

Francona encouraged, congratulated and energized each player while showing obvious great joy in leading them through the plan. Why? Because he knew that everyone was watching him!