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Three do's and don'ts for a business rescue situation

Posted by Chad O'Connor  August 14, 2012 11:00 AM

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“Why did Marissa Mayer accept the CEO position at Yahoo?” When that headline recently appeared in my inbox, it may as well have read, “Has Google’s top woman lost her mind?” But Mayer, 37, the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company – who also happens to be a pregnant woman – is clearly looking for a challenge. Some leaders thrive in rescue situations, one of five primary business terrains for executives to navigate.

The good news for Mayer is that everyone at Yahoo! should be on the same page about the company being in need of a turnaround. Regardless, she’ll certainly face her detractors and challenges. Here are three do’s and don’ts for a business leader in rescue situations:

· Be realistic and acknowledge the truth of the situation.

· Accept that there may be no right answer: decide quickly and act; reflect and readjust later.

· Provide consistent messages, and continue communicating – even when there is seemingly little to communicate.

· Downplay the urgency of the situation – but also don’t panic (people watch the leader very closely for signals).

· Try to overhaul everything at once (for example, structure and strategy).

· Overuse collaborative decision making.

Ironically, while many are focused on Mayer, she should know that her success is tied to her ability to generate some collective quick wins. This could generate an even more interesting headline next year: “How can we groom the next generation of leaders to be like Marissa Mayer?”

Andrew Graham is President & CEO at The Forum Corp., a Boston-based premiere learning organization.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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