Lessons in leadership

What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you? What did you learn from that?

Shelley FleckensteinShelley Fleckenstein, Kings Physiotherapy Clinic/ CBI Health Group
A trusted employee appropriated funds from the organization. I learned the dangers of not having sufficient checks and balances in place to ensure integrity and validity within the system. I have also learned the importance of managing the accounts receivable so as to ensure that both top and bottom goals are met. I have learned to work hard over the years to refine and adapt my management style to address the mercurial nature of small business ownership and the many challenges that come with it.

Ron LovettRon Lovett , Source Security
In 2007, four of our security guards were injured on the job. This was the worst thing to happen to me personally, but possibly gave me the best lessons I could learn as a business owner. I really feel as though this was a “make it or break it” moment in my career. Handling the substantial media interest, and leading the team through this challenging time made me a stronger leader and a more mature entrepreneur. There was a personal takeaway as well. This is when I determined that I needed to do more from a community standpoint, and made an effort to give more of my time to various community organizations. This also led to my decision to become a foster parent.

John GriffinJohn Griffin, W.P. Griffin Inc.
During a major expansion in 2004 our bank told us that due to potato market conditions, they didn’t want us to complete our expansion. We countered by putting some of our own money on the table and completed the project. We learned that it is crucial to have financial partners that are closer to our industry and truly understand our business. We moved banks the following year.

Guido KerpelGuido Kerpel, New Castle Hotels and Resorts
For our team in Halifax, 9/11 was a surreal experience. We immediately had flight crews arrive at our hotel from the Halifax airport, many of whom had just heard that their colleagues were lost. We had customers rerouted back to our property, again many of whom had relatives or friends affected by this tragedy. We also had colleagues with New Castle Hotels in the Tower that day; thankfully they were able to escape. Throughout this awful day, I also saw the best in people, specifically our front-line staff who went over and above their designated roles to comfort those who were in need.

The long-term ramifications for our industry were very tough. We saw the tightening of borders and increased travel restrictions, which of course resulted in far fewer travelers from the United States in the years following 9/11. The focus on security, while absolutely understandable, has made us less hospitable in many ways. We’ve become a “vanilla-type” destination and we’ve moved out of the Top 10 desirable locations to visit (as promoted by the United Nations World Tourism Organization and TIAC). In terms of what I’ve learned from this experience, I’ve learned that sometimes the worst moments bring out our strongest traits. I learned that nothing feels as good as the power of teamwork and collaboration.

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