Most of my CEO clients are usually decisive once they have a minimum of information about a choice to be made. They have developed good instincts and a great sense of when to go on instinct.

What then holds them back at times far longer than, on later reflection, than they would have liked (“I should have made the decision a lot sooner”)? Answers depend on the choice and the risks, of course — firing a long-time leadership team member or pruning customers from the sales base or canceling a new product.

It has become evident that even these high-powered, driven executives need tools for such moments. One of these is scripting.



Harold leads a turnaround owned by investors. He has made a great deal of progress but the turnaround will take far longer than thought. And the debt structure together with the not yet robust earnings indicates there will be little if any equity for the management in the next few years. The owners have not been interested in re-negotiating the debt structure or the deal with management. No one except management will change the situation. But Harold has been reluctant to call the question. For almost a year.

Recently, Harold and I sat together and — unplanned — we began to articulate the script of “the conversation” with the lead investor. What would be the first item communicated? What is the logic from start to finish? How to keep it clinical (fact-based to avoid unnecessary triggering defensive behavior by the investor)? Harold would try a sentence, then we would discuss then improve on it.

I won’t write here the actual storyline, but Harold liked it so much, he rose from the table and went to his car to make the call he had put off for months. He said he had leapt over the reluctance because we had made the path forward to tangible. “This is incredibly helpful!”

There have been numerous other times when a decision became clearer to the CEO by our working out the script (still subject to improvement by the CEO after our session, but enough to eliminate reluctance.

This applies to conversations with the board chair, board members, leadership team, partners, vendors, customers and, yes, family members.  Clients tell me how surprised they are how helpful it is to script before a conversation or a meeting.



How to put this to use? When you realize there is an important decision to make and are having reluctance to take the plunge, write down the first and last things you would say. Don’t let a blank page slow you down — write whatever comes into your head. Then edit and edit until it is what needs to be said, is in your voice and is most likely to have the outcome you desire.

That’s just my view. What’s yours?





Sent from my iPad






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What Made jack welch JACK WELCH

How Ordinary People Become
Extraordinary Leaders

by Stephen H. Baum (Random House)

Most leaders of American companies started out as ordinary people. What prepared them for the top job?

Countless more ordinary people of equal talent never developed the leadership core required to run the show. Why not?

"Lessons for life about the core leadership traits of character, risk taking decisiveness and the ability to engage and inspire followers."
--Jim Clifton, CEO, The Gallup Organization


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