Review. Rethink. React.

“Leadership is a matter of having people look at you and gain confidence, seeing how you react. If you’re in control, they’re in control.” – Tom Landry

Every so often a small business owner or a startup entrepreneur has to take a step back, breathe a deep breath, and look at your company with eyes wide open. It can be hard to cut through the fog of personal bias, sunny optimism, deeply held hopes, and one’s very dreams, but it is absolutely imperative that it be done.

Sometimes this needs to happen with an employee, sometimes with a partner, sometimes with a certain customer, and sometimes with your overall marketing or business strategy. For instance, many managers wait for the end of the year before beginning an employee performance review. Bad idea – employee performance is a living, breathing things that doesn’t magically come to life on December 1st and your active feedback over the course of the entire year can make a huge difference in how well a team member performs.

Same goes with marketing strategy and tactics; one of the tenets of lean marketing is to set specific goals and test your efforts in small batches,  harvesting and analyzing the data as you go. Quickly get rid of the underperforming tactics, and just as quickly ramp up those that perform well. This is the essence of the three R’s in the title of this post, and they extend to all aspects of how you manage your business: take the time to review how well things are working, rethink your approach, and react with a positive new approach.

Reviewing the current state is critically important to this process and this is where you have to strip away your biases and remove your rose-colored lenses. Take time to look at the big picture (as well as the details!) and carefully examine the current state of your business. Come to this process with every intention of instituting change where needed and doing so quickly and concisely.

Rethinking is all about you with your feet up, head back and a blank gaze upward to the ceiling. Take time, ponder, let your creative process move ahead and imagine ways that you might look at a problem or situation differently. One great exercise is to imagine you were starting your company over again from scratch, but now armed with the experience and knowledge you’ve gained since then. What would you do differently? What mistakes would you vow to avoid in the future? Rethink how your methods, your procedures, and your tactics have gotten you to where you are now and find a different way going forward.

Reacting as in don’t just sit there, DO SOMETHING! Strong leaders do not sit back and wait for events to catch up to them, they create change and shape events. One you have completed your reviewed and rethought your approach it is time to take positive action: pull the plug on the tactic that isn’t working, fire the employee who is not performing (or incentivize the one who is!), launch the new strategy quickly, etc etc etc. The point is that none of the three R’s can live in a vacuum; as a manager, a small business owner, an high-growth entrepreneur you need to develop your own framework for moving forward positively and confidently.

Photo: San Francisco Bay Bridge, old span and new by Frank Schulenburg/Wikimedia Commons