And Thens and But Thens

Remarkably resilient companies have leaders who are more “and then” leaders than “but then” leaders. There is a dramatic difference between the two.

Resilient businesses are like an old broom in their knowledge and wellspring of wisdom. You know the difference between a new broom and an old broom?

The new broom sweeps the floor. The old broom knows the corners.

Resilient companies know the corners. They are always about “and thens” while they avoid “but thens.”

The “But Then” Leader
The “but then” leader is moving the ball forward over time but then poor decisions are made. The business was progressing but then a wrong turn was taken.

But then greed got in the way.

But then they lost focus on their company values.

But then they took their focus off their most precious assets: their people and their clients.

It used to be “ready, aim, fire” with their approach to their business, but then suddenly it became “fire, aim, ready.”  But then…

The “And Then” Leader
By contrast, the “and then” leader keeps his or her endurance, maintaining the right wide-angle lens perspective. Under their leadership, the business sustains its commitment to extraordinary excellence and continues to make smart, momentum-building business decisions.

And then it decides to be more generous with the communities around them.

And then it redoubles its commitment to its values and the clients they serve.

And then it increases its influence.

And then pushes harder to constantly think entrepreneurially and boldly.

And then the business has this brilliant idea.

And then…

One of my most admired “and then” leaders is Frank Blake, the former CEO of The Home Depot. Frank led Home Depot with precision, energy, brains, integrity, humility and heart.

In Blake’s seven-year period as CEO, there was a 127 percent increase in the company’s share price. Every Saturday, without fail, Frank would wake up early, put his Home Depot apron on and visit various Home Depot stores around Atlanta. He made these visits for years. When he retired, he could have relaxed and made a beeline to the beach. Instead of acting retired, he re-fired.

He became chairman of the Grady Hospital board, giving his time and energy to Georgia’s largest hospital and indigent care provider. And then he agreed to chair the Delta Air Lines board, providing valuable leadership to the world’s largest airline, and on and on. Frank is the real deal. He is the quintessential “and then” leader.