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Lessons from Phil Horlock


Every small business owner has to deal with problems. Phil Horlock, CEO of Blue Bird Corporation, learned a lot about solving problems during 32 years at the Ford Motor Company, and now he puts those lessons to use in his own company.
When you’re dealing with problems, it’s easy to get emotional. There are so many highs and lows in business (and in all of life), but one of the most important things you can do is to always look at the reality of what’s going on.
Horlock shares two critical lessons for dealing with problems. They are related.

1.    Attack the problem, not the person.
2.    Don’t hide from bad news.

You can’t manage a secret. If you attack people when they bring you a problem or bad news, then people will stop bringing you bad news. But those problems don’t go away just because you don’t know about them; hiding from the bad news just makes it worse. Leaders must create an environment where people put issues on the table and deal with problems objectively, not attacking the people who raise the issues.

Too many leaders dismiss their team members with scorn, discouraging others from talking and sharing ideas. That happens in businesses of all sizes. But in a strong organization, the people are thinking, sharing their problems and challenges, and working together to find a way to fix the problem. That starts with acknowledging the problem, and then attacking the it.

Published: January 24, 2014

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