Tuesday, September 10, 2013

THE FIRST 90 DAYS



In our business life, we are often confronted with situations that seem intractable, but with owners and operators or stakeholders that have lost patience. At times you have to act quickly just to “keep the doors open.” It is certainly true that our first 90 days as Hotel General Manager, are the most crucial we face.  As we seek to make an immediate impact, it helps to look back at one very notable example of a quick 90 day turnaround.

A CASE STUDY

His military career culminated with the award of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  Ronald Reagan said of Mathew Bunker Ridgway  "Heroes come when they're needed, great men step forward when courage seems in short supply."  General Omar Bradley cited Ridgway's work in the Korean War,  "the greatest feat of personal leadership in the history of the Army."

When General Ridgway took command of the Eighth Army in Korea,  the US was in a tactical retreat.  It’s invasion into North Korea having been met with an unexpected and overwhelming Communist Chinese advance. Within 90 days Ridgway was successful in turning around the morale of the 8th Army and is widely credited by historians as turning around the Korean

GAINING TRUST AND “BUY IN”

Upon taking command  of the Eighth Army, one of Ridgway's first acts was to restore soldiers' confidence in themselves and their leadership team.

In his first days of command Ridgway sat through an extensive discussion of various fallback plans.  At the end, he asked the staff about their attack plans, the operations officer  responded that he had no such plans. Within days, there was a new operations officer.

CHANGING THE DYNAMIC

Ridgway removed the excuses. He redrew the battlefield maps, removing "enemy positions" from the planning maps if recent contact hadn’t verified there  were still Communist troops in the vicinity. Recognizing that even great leaders could have their confidence and perspective eroded, Ridgway began to “rotate out”   the division commanders who had been in action for six months and were “burned out” or infected by a culture of powerlessness.

GETTING IN TOUCH

It was not just enough to replace them with fresh leaders. He made certain by example and direction, that commanders at all levels had to commit to time “in the trenches” and leave their offices in the rear. These was immediate impact on morale, but more crucially on the flow of actionable information.

It’s not coincidental that shortly after the generals returned to the field, the tactics changed to ones that used heavy artillery, which was less dangerous of a way to defend the front lines. Some would later say that the decision  saved countless American lives as the “police action” evolved to a holding action until it ended 60 years ago.  

RIDGWAY ON LEADERSHIP

  •  Leadership has three primary ingredients: character, courage, and competence.
  • Character is the "bedrock on which the whole edifice of leadership rests."  His definition included self-discipline, loyalty, selflessness, modesty, and willingness to accept responsibility and admit mistakes
  • Courage includes both physical and moral courage.
  • Competence includes physical fitness, anticipating when crises will occur and being present to resolve them, and being close to subordinates—communicating clearly and ensuring that they are treated and led well and fairly 



"No soldier ever performed his duty better than this man. No soldier ever upheld his honor better than this man. No soldier ever loved his country more than this man did. Every American soldier owes a debt to this great man." – General Colin Powell

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Many Blessings- Noel