I worked for a privately held manufacturer here in North Carolina for almost 20 years that was owned by a terrific elderly businessman in Atlanta. So, most of the time it was a telephone relationship and at month end and quarter end we had face-to-face meetings to analyze performance, evaluate strategy, and go.
This owner would call me up and tell me about an idea he had, or tell me why he didn’t like what the company was doing in some area of our business, or tell me that such and such a product wouldn’t sell because there was no viable value proposition. The he would say to me, “Fred, I need you to defeat me with logic”.
My job was to lay out the facts and conditions as to why we were headed in the direction we were. If my defense of our strategy was thoughtful and logical, then he would call off the dogs, so to speak, and leave us alone. However, he wanted to hear the logical defense of our strategy. As much as I dreaded those telephone calls most of the time, I learned so much from them.
I listen to audiobooks a lot and recently the book was “1776”, David McCullough’s great book of history about the year 1776. In that book, you learn so much about the man, George Washington, and his presence, integrity, and leadership in pulling off the impossible against the British. Washington always resisted the temptation of some to evaluate a situation based on what he wanted to hear. He only dealt in reality. What are the facts? What are we going to do?
As a business leader, you want to train those around you to present the truth even if it is tough, embarrassing, or disappointing. Try using “defeat me with logic”.
Fred Barringer is the Regional Director of the NC SBTDC at Chapel Hill and Durham. He is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill and received his MBA from Wake Forest University. He served in the US Navy as a Surface Warfare Officer and is a retired Naval Reservist. The majority of his career has been spent in the small business community in North Carolina, working for three privately-held manufacturing companies. More about Fred >>