Allowing Necessary Endings to Liberate Your Organization

Where are you thriving and where are you just surviving?

Summary
Transcript

Leadership expert and best-selling author, Dr. Henry Cloud, shares that great leaders know the necessity of endings.

Pruning, adjusting and moving forward is a healthy and natural process into which we must lead ourselves, our teams, and our organizations in order to bring clarity and stability to our vision, strategy and ongoing work.

The first boundary a leader brings to bring simplicity is a boundary of necessary endings. Necessary endings. And what a necessary ending basically is, is when the leader realizes that the worst thing that he or she can have is hope in this situation. You know, if you take a wrong turn, you're down a wrong road, the worst thing you can do is hope that the road is going to turn into the right one. Or you've got the wrong person in a position or the wrong strategy or whatever it is, there are seasons that pass. And when a season is over and its time is up, a leader to create simplicity and to create a lack of chaos that people can follow must step up and have the courage to create a necessary ending with something that needs to be let go of.

A metaphor I use a lot when I'm working with leaders and executives teams is we go through a pruning process. And when I wrote the book, I actually went and talked to people who grow things like rose bushes and plants and stuff, and here's what I found out about pruning. That the experts prune a rosebush in basically three contexts. Number one, a rosebush produces more buds than it can feed, more buds than it can sustain. So what the gardener has to do is look at the bush and figure out which of the buds are the best and prune the rest of them because the best one, and here's the key, the best one needs the resources of the bush, or the resources of the vine is another way you've heard this. The best ones.

And so they have to prune really good stuff because the best ones need those resources. More buds than you can sustain. You know, as a bush grows it just sprouts stuff. And our businesses are like that, our lives are like that. The longer you're alive, you're just creating more activities, more product lines, more departments, more committees, more strategies. And that's great, if we're getting rid of the ones that are not the best. Because they're taking up the resources.

A friend of mine bought a company one time, it was about 25 million or so in sales when he bought it. And within about five or six years he had taken it to 500 million, he was on his way to a billion. I asked him one day, I said, "How'd you do this?" He said, "Well, here's what I did. When I first bought the company I looked at everything it did," and he said, "I realized," and here's the phrase. He said, "The life of the company was in about 20% of its activities. I said, "Oh the rest of it was losing money?" He said no. It was all profitable. He said, "But the life was in about 20% of it. And the future was in about 20%, so I called my management team in in June," and he said, "January one, I want all this 80% gone. Get rid of it. Give it away, sell it, shut it down, whatever we got to do. Because I want all of our people and time and energy and resources to be over here, because that's where we're headed."

And they protested. He said he had to walk through a lot of relationships, a lot of conflict to get to the best buds on the bush so they could have the resources. And he said "That's what we did." And what I find is when you get into the discussions with even CEOs and high level executive teams, and you start to begin to do this kind of pruning, that's where it's the moment for the leadership courage to be able to clip some things that we might be attached to.
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Dr. Henry Cloud

Dr. Henry Cloud is an acclaimed leadership expert and best-selling author. He draws on his experience in business, leadership consulting, and his practice as a clinical psychologist, to impart practical and effective advice for improv...

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