A critical function for leaders is to define the situation at hand for their organizations. Napoleon is quoted as saying, “The role of the leader is to define reality and give hope.” Similarly, famed GECEO Jack Welch’s once said, “Deal with the world as it is, not how you’d like it to be.” Defining reality includes the need to “confront the brutal facts” as business guru Jim Collins would recommend. I see too many organizations that deny reality and adopt blind hope as a strategy. Being able to face reality and address it head on takes courage and perseverance. It is easy to deceive ourselves as leaders.
We must be vigilant in gathering the true facts of any situation – not just what we want to hear.
Doug McDaniel, President of McDaniel & Register, Inc., is a committed leader in his industry and community and has consistently strived to help objectively define reality and focus on what is most important in the organizations he has been involved. McDaniel is a native of Jackson and an Ole Miss graduate. He credits the influence of his father and his early leadership positions in high school and college with fueling his interest in leading and serving.
After college, McDaniel worked for KPMG before beginning a career in the financial industry with Merrill Lynch in 1984. After later working for A.G. Edwards for a number of years, he joined EFP Wealth Management which proved to be very successful and was later acquired by Stanford Financial. McDaniel noted that dealing with the fallout of Stanford’s demise was certainly challenging as a leader. Through support from family, friends, and clients, McDaniel pressed through that trying time and has built a very successful financial services business at McDaniel & Register.
A man of deep faith and conviction, McDaniel has dedicated his time and resources to serving as an active leader in numerous community organization. In particular, he has served as Chairman of the Board at Jackson Prep, Chairman of the Deacons at First Presbyterian Church, and Chairman of the Board of YBL (Young Business Leaders). McDaniel was also a founding member of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy. In these leadership positions, he has become a student of how to unleash the potential of high impact boards. He wisely pointed out that too often we boards have very talented members, but the full potential of the wisdom and experience of the members’ goes untapped.
McDaniel pointed me to Harvard professor Dr. Richard Chait’s work on governance and boards.
Chait’s books have helped shaped McDaniel’s view of how to be a more effective leader. He shared two influential quotes by Dr. Chait, “Why chase the amoeba when you have a whale in the swimming pool?” and “90% of the work of governance (leadership) is defining reality.”
McDaniel also shared a story about watching an interview years ago of Jim Barksdale when he was with Netscape by Lou Dobbs of CNN. Dobbs was asking Barksdale about how he managed the company in the complex and fast moving world of technology. Barksdale answered the question by stating, “The main thing, Lou, is to keep the main thing the main thing!” McDaniel also shared a very important consideration for leaders and boards, “Don’t confuse process with progress.” In other words, just because a group followed an efficient process for a meeting does not mean that anything was actually accomplished.
I appreciate leaders like McDaniel who lead with conviction because they know who they are and their priorities. I know he will continue to positive difference in the organizations he is involved.
» Martin Willoughby is a business consultant and regular contributing columnist for the Mississippi Business Journal. He serves as Chief Operating Officer of Butler Snow Advisory Services, LLC and can be reached at martin.willoughby@ butlersnow.com.
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