Management Insights from the SHOT Show Executive Management Seminar

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By James Lint and Andrew Martines, Guest Contributor

Faculty Member, School of Business, American Public University

Senior Editor for InCyberDefense and Contributor, In Homeland Security

The Las Vegas SHOT Show is an annual expo full of new ideas and technology for military, law enforcement and homeland security professionals. The show also features training seminars for retailers in the shooting, hunting and outdoors industry.

Seminar Offers Education in Management Best Practices

On Monday, January 22, the day before SHOT Show opened, the Executive Management Seminar addressed the needs and concerns of management professionals – everyone from new managers to company presidents and CEOs. The seminar covered management techniques and business practices, similar to those needed by senior management in the federal government. Speakers included Netflix show host Steve Rinella and psychologist Tim Irwin.

Steve Rinella Offers Life and Leadership Lessons in Seminar

As a youngster, Steve Rinella spent most of his days outdoors trapping and selling animal skins. He learned about the vagaries of economics when the fur market declined to the point where his business no longer could support him.

Rinella later hosted a television show on the Travel Channel to introduce people to the outdoors, but it failed to attract an audience. He persevered and created the MeatEater television show and podcast on Netflix that have about 227,000 followers. From his experiences, Rinella learned several lessons:

• When you are getting to your destination, the mode of transport does not matter as much as where you are going.

• Leave a good trail – do good things along the way and help others. They’ll help you.

• Ask yourself, “Am I doing the right thing now?”

• Remember what you were trying to do in the first place.

Rinella believes in keeping an eye on future technologies. He advised the audience to learn to shift with the technology and think about what will be the next technology.

Irwin Discusses the Qualities of a True Leader

Tim Irwin, a licensed psychologist and corporate consultant, discussed the three faces of a leader: style, conduct and core. He noted that style is the “face” of the leader. Conduct is the leader’s actions and the “core” is the real person, beyond style or conduct.

Irwin also spoke about what he called the “five stages of derailment.” His speech offered insight to why people in powerful positions fail.

As leaders, we should be aware of these five stages and review their effects on us, he advised the audience. The five stages can help us to determine if we are going in the right direction or if we should make a course correction to avoid the final stage, derailment.

Irwin’s five stages were:

1. Failure of self-awareness: You don’t know who you are.

2. Arrogance: You have a sense of self-importance and think you are better than you are.

3. Missing warning signals: Your friends and family are sending signals but you are not listening.

4. Rationalization: You tell yourself lies that you are better than you really are and you believe you are the smartest person in the room. You are not subject to the rules that govern others and are not accountable to others, only to yourself. You are irreplaceable and add value.

5. Derailment: Derailment is a word that conjures up a train wreck. In reality, derailment occurs to leaders on a personal level. Sadly, most famous people who suffered derailments showed signs others saw in advance and the leader should have seen disaster coming.

For example, derailment can be seen in the Bill Clinton – Monica Lewinsky situation. Clinton failed to see the warning signs. He rationalized that his position as President of the U.S. protected his actions and continued his bad behavior.

Uber’s Travis Kalanick had a contentious culture in his boardroom due to arrogance. That arrogance caused him to miss warning signs from others.

Similarly, Enron rocketed up in stock price only to crash and file a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The members of the board and senior staff all saw different signs of derailment coming.

As in many derailments, leaders do not have enough input from friends and family, often due to their arrogance. They believe that they knew better than others.

Irwin Advises Listening to ‘Guard Your Core’ to Remain a Good Leader

Irwin believes in guarding your core above all else because it determines your life, the good or bad. You must remain vigilant and:

• Conduct frequent self-examinations.

• Be especially careful with power, position, fame, influence, money and success.

• Relish feedback.

• Have a board of three or four personal advisors who will tell you the truth.

• Feedback is important. It can be painful, but it helps when a course correction is needed.

This seminar was useful in offering unique insights for leaders and how they can change lives and improve people. Although leaders have many responsibilities, they need to ensure that they exhibit the right kind of leadership. Otherwise, failure cascades down to many other lives and organizations.