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After reviewing some near fatal corporate collapses recently it made me wonder if there was a common cause. After more investigation it became clear that these companies indeed suffered the same problem – complacency by the leadership!

I was intrigued as to the reasons why complacency could set in when companies are competing fiercely in this technologically advanced age we live in. After all, we know how important innovation and creative thought is for an organisation to remain relevant and competitive.

In the early years of the organisation the entrepreneur is visionary and filled with passion. Creativity flows from this and the team innovates consistently as new ideas are tried and tested. Goals, strategies and action plans are regularly upgraded and relentlessly pursued. The grit is contagious and the senior leadership is highly motivated by purpose and passion. The results and growth is astounding and the company thrives. Management is applauded and admired. They hold each other accountable.

Then the unthinkable happens. The leadership becomes too comfortable and complacency sets in. The following questions should be honestly evaluated:

  • Do you still have the burning passion, perseverance and grit?
  • Are you as creative as you were around marketing, packaging, social media, new services or product lines, smarter supply chains and distribution channels?
  • Do you still have the capacity and motivation to drive consistent innovation?
  • Can you still beat the competition or do they now scare you?
  • Are you still thinking ahead of the curve of your industry’s latest technology, big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning, augmented reality, robotics and blockchain?
  • Is your customer experience still superior and relevant?
  • Do you still have the physical energy to run ahead and lead the team?
  • Are you relying too much on others and maybe too trusting without the necessary checks and balances?
  • Are you tired?

Brilliant individuals lose their wealth and reputation by failing to recognize complacency.

No leader escapes these complacencies indefinitely as we all grow old and tired. The same for corporates. We have to recognize when the time has come to reinvigorate, replace and renew. This may mean it’s time to sell and exit your business or expand and grow a new team.

It is this judgment of precise timing, rather than your achievements, that may determine your legacy and wealth. We have again just recently become aware in the media of brilliant individuals whose reputations are in tatters or whom have lost billions of dollars because they did not timely recognize the signs and act for change.

We cannot become complacent for too long and expect premium multi – million dollar outcomes.

Written by Tony Wiese, principal at Wiese & Stone M&A advisory

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