Lessons in leadership

What’s the most difficult part of your job and how do you deal with it?

John AtkinsJohn Atkins, JAC
Dealing with HR issues. With any business you tend to spend just as much time working with your colleagues as you do with your family. As a result, you form relationships with people. Having to address issues like job performance or a request for a raise that may not be warranted, can be stressful. You need to find the right balance of engagement or it could result in poor communication and/or misinterpretation.

Roxanne FairweatherRoxanne Fairweather, Innovatia
Focus and prioritization. There are thousands of good things that can drive the energy of an organization, but it’s finding the few truly great things that lead you to the top. For me, this is the quintessential business problem that I struggle with, because of the many good opportunities that we are fortunate enough to be presented with.

Sean O'ReganSean O’Regan, O’Regan Automotive Group
Keeping up with communication can be quite difficult with the number of brands we represent and each manufacturer is quite different (e.g. Toyota is very different from Mercedes-Benz; Nissan is very different from Kia, etc…). The volume of communication is quite heady and ensuring that each of our manufacturer’s objectives and priorities are addressed takes a lot of juggling.

Damian ByrneDamian Byrne, Landmark Hospitality Group
When I first entered this business as an owner, I was 28 and responsible for everything – from bottle washing to accounting. It was a fairly steep learning curve, but one that you become dedicated to perfecting when your own money is on the line. I’m not ashamed to say that I became very good at it, so when I see someone who does something differently, or that isn’t up to scratch, there is the natural desire to step in. Consequently, I have to continuously resist the urge to become too involved in the day-to-day operations and stay focused on the bigger picture. I have dealt with that by building an excellent team around me who I trust, and by holding them accountable for their roles and responsibilities.

Dan MerzettiDan Merzetti , DSM Telecom
Financing a start-up is not like the days where you could go to the bank with a business plan, have a conversation about the viability of the venture and both parties assume some risk for a chance at the reward. Today it is all about finding alternative funding which can be anything from loans from business development banks and lending bodies to private equity. But the whole process of finding the right financing formula that works for you and for the lender and then navigating through all of that is challenging. Fortunately, I was able to secure a number of private lenders and investors who believed in my vision and continue to support DSM Tel as the business grows.

Joe RandellJoe Randell, Chorus Aviation Inc.
Communication and trying to nurture a strong commitment to the organization are a challenge with so many employees spread across Canada, especially our front line employees whose ‘workplace’ is onboard an aircraft. We continually evaluate our communications tools and technology to enhance this aspect of our business. Another challenge is to provide recognition when and where it’s due to motivate employees in a timely manner. We have a number of programs and tools available to our management team to recognize and reward employee accomplishments.

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