The loss of loniless

Just recently I heard a sad and, unfortunately, common story. It is the story of a businessman whose company is facing insolvency and that only when there was nothing else to be done he communicated his family. The family who was not aware of the situation is now forced to go through an abrupt adjustment in their lifestyle, an adjustment they were not prepared for.

We can learn from this sad story a bit about management and a bit about relationship. In regard to management, it is rare that a business enters into a situation of insolvency without emitting clear signs. These signs involve:


(i) low sales growth (meaning the reduction of acceptance by current and potential customers of the company’s products or services);
(ii) accentuated dependence on a few customers or a few businesses;
(iii) low or nil cash generation (making the company “cover” its needs via borrowings or postponement of obligations or through a combination of both);
(iv) management’s incapacity of “reading” or recognize indicators and of identifying and making the necessary (tough) adjustments.

The more common – and wrong – answer is that of investing in generating more business. If the company is in a situation of low cash generation or heavily in debt this may be the worst decision, as there is no manner of increasing business without working capital commitment. The solution may be the opposite, reducing sales, selling assets, reducing in size with the objective of a new beginning. Nevertheless, this only may work if done in time. And an outsider "look", unattached and independent may help importantly!

In regard to the aspect involving the relationship with the family, the problem may be the “John Wayne syndrome“. The “alpha”, leader, man or woman, runs the risk of suffering of this syndrome. It is characterized by

  1.     toughness;
  2.     insensibility;
  3.     communication incapacity (what would mean expose him/herself, or, humiliation); and
  4.     self-sufficiency, or the capacity of solving everything by him-herself, a feeling reaffirmed by past successes.

The tendency, in view of these characteristics (of the syndrome), is that the person becomes solitary, even when in the midst of others. And this loneliness is self-imposed and reinforced by the evil it causes to the people around. It is hard to the “alpha” recognize this behavior; nevertheless, this is the first step towards change. The second step is to understand that “John Wayne” was a character that did not die or ended alone only because he was the “lead man” of a story of fiction totally controlled by an author. The third step is to talk, open up. And open up is a process that demands three things:

  1.     effort (to break up with a pattern);
  2.     sincerity; and
  3.     a trustworthy counterpart.

By doing that – seek for professional help or counseling - one will not become a smaller leader but a (much) better man (or woman)!

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” (Book of Ecclesiastes)