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Guest: Lloyd Brown, the Co-Founder and Vice Chairman of Smart Chemical Services, which has been named an Inc 5,000 Fastest Growing Company for three years in a row. Lloyd is also the author of a new book, Refined by Failure.
Overview: Failure hurts. But according to Lloyd Brown — who was fired from a company he co-founded — if a CEO is humble enough to admit mistakes, hold himself accountable, and work on improving blind spots, failure can also grant wisdom that you can use to make BIG happen going forward.
Lloyd Brown on learning from failure :
Rule number one: give trust, earn trust. It’s about being intentional. Entering into a business relationship I personally didn’t take enough time to really invest in the other partners and get clarity on what we were committing to and how we would move forward and then clarifying that along the way. You can assume best intentions. You can assume that you are having a really connected thought, but unless you memorialize that in some way, shape, or form, how do you keep track of that trust that has been given and how do you continue to earn that trust?
Treat others as you want to be treated. We have to make sure that we’re emotionally safe in our relationships and understand that there are boundaries that come from that safety. And that’s just something I have historically not been really good at: speaking the hard truth. I didn’t set those expectations along the way with certain individuals that were in our organization because of a long-term personal relationship. A lot of times, we’ve spent too much time being worried about how others are going to feel instead of just coming forward and saying, ‘Our expectation was this, we’re not hitting it. When we set the expectation, we said these are the steps we were going to take based on not achieving our goal.’ And I was always good about setting the expectations on achievement. I never would talk about what we were going to do if we didn’t achieve our goal. And that’s unfair.
I wouldn’t say it’s easy, but when it’s so obvious that there’s a challenge and there’s not a fit, those kinds of off-boardings are … they’re never fun, but you don’t lose sleep over them because you know you’re doing what’s best for the health of the company. The hard part is … I hired a bunch of friends and several of them had some pretty challenging personality traits. One of them violated the golden rule all the time but was so highly competent in their role. I lost my credibility because I was allowing him to emotionally abuse people. And that’s when it gets really tough having to let someone go. Especially when they’re a lifetime friend. It really comes down to what your core value is. And that’s when, really, you become a leader, not a manager. Leaders make those really, really tough decisions. And I can say I’ve made some good ones and I’ve failed at that a bunch. You’ve got to say, I don’t care that it’s going to hurt us financially to make this decision, or even relationally. It’s the right thing for the organization.
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About CEO Coaching International
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