On Change

There are many advantages to having talent commit long-term. As a leader you are not constantly preoccupied that you might lose your key executives to other companies.  There’s a more common middle ground where both owners and executives can talk about their vision for the next ten or twenty years accompanied by the strong likelihood that all will be around to see their ideas made real. There is also the accumulated knowledge that only years of dedicated experience can provide.  Together, that can add up to a formidable team when sitting opposite industry rivals.

Loyalty, however, if not handled correctly can blind leaders and get in the way of making changes.  Often, an underperforming executive is not let go soon enough or is given a third or fourth chance because of this sense of camaraderie that comes from working together for so many years in the same company.

When I took over as CEO a year ago, I had the benefit of being new to the game and identified rather quickly that changes needed to be made in our structure.  I also realized how difficult it would be to make them. I was told that it would seem “cruel” to let go of people that had been with us “since before I was born”.   I didn’t think it was cruel, but I also didn’t know how taxing it would be for both sides.  The people I was letting go had never imagined a life outside our company.  For the executives who remained, there was a new nervousness about the security of their positions to add to the sense of loss watching old friends depart.

If you are a result driven person you need the right team in place to get those results. Had we not made these difficult changes in management we would have struggled to meet our benchmarks.

In any successful business there is a fine line between being strategic and being cutthroat. In an old family business like ours, there is also an element of time that helps us project the evolution of our business for the next 50 years. This means we consider the repercussions of our decisions on a much longer horizon.

So while I want to nurture my high potential employees so that they will want to make a career at Cisneros I have to make sure that loyalty does not become a safety blanket for underperformers.  There’s always a balance to be considered when watching the bottom line. Hard decisions have to be made in any business, but I never forget that loyalty is something that can give Cisneros an edge over its competition.

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Since moving to Miami I have been involved with the up and coming entrepreneurial scene mostly through my work with Endeavor.  I was so pleased to read this article in Forbes – 4 Women Make Entrepreneurship Happen in Miami – that I thought I would share it with you.