Focused and Grounded Optimism

Posted 10.06.2008

grounded Optimism Last week, Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz shared an all employee memo he sent in response to the current financial crisis. It's a fantastic example of a leader focusing his team with grounded optimism. Schwartz makes three requests of his teammates:

  1. Focus on the customer:  As Schwartz writes, "The right question for every customer you meet is "how can I help?" I assure you, they'll have ideas for us."
  2. Expand the base:  Schwartz is focusing his team on growth with this observation, "We're dramatically underpenetrated in the global market — and that represents a great opportunity."
  3. Take advantage of crisis:  Martial arts experts use the force of their opponent to their own advantage.  Schwartz takes a similar approach in exhorting his team to take advantage of the current crisis.  Here's what he wrote on that point, "In times of crisis, we have a big opportunity to stand apart from our peers, to be better connected to the market, even if it's in turmoil. Yes, our customers are going to be under stress, but that's simply another way of saying "open to change."

Great points, all.  Here's the one I like the most, however.  In encouraging everyone to keep their eye on the ball, Schwartz writes, "There will be no end of opinions surrounding what the US, or the EU, or the Asian governments should be doing to bolster economic performance. I'm not that interested in the public debate — I am infinitely more interested in the private debate — going on inside every one of our customers surrounding … 'Which vendors are asking if they can help — which are truly my partners?'"

That's where it's at folks.  What message of focus do you intend to share with your team this week?