Dalton’s strategic growth lesson: Stay the course!

I feel blessed to have been mentored and have partnered with such a balanced leader as George Dalton. He was strategic, focused, resilient and persistent; yet open, curious, collaborative and engaging, demonstrating both the power of strength and the power of vulnerability all in one leader.

I met George in late 2008, when introduced by Carla Rutley, outreach director for Ottawa University, and client Scott Haag, president of Moore Oil Company. Both knew that I did leadership and business development consulting and that I was considering a partner for my new business venture, BIZremedies, and believed George could potentially be my perfect partner.

Like many people, the first time I met George was at Perkins Restaurant at 6:30 a.m. To my surprise, he drove up in the parking lot ahead of me in a yellow Volkswagen Bug with flower hubs and a fresh flower in the vase. When I sat down at the table, I asked him if he was driving his daughter’s car. He replied, “No actually that’s my favorite car. I love the power it has, the fresh flower in the vase and the look on executives’ faces when I pull up to them at a stop light and beat them out of the gate!” In that moment, I knew George was authentic, competitive, playful and very well-balanced.

While I had heard great things about George, before asking him to be a part of BIZremedies, I suggested we spend time discussing our vision and philosophy of leadership development, employee engagement and strategies for business development, to ensure we believed in the same course of action.

A synergy and trust emerged which led me, approximately two years later, to show George my business plan for BIZremedies. He immediately agreed with it and signed up as an investor and chairman of my board in February of 2011.

Just a few weeks later, our course was altered when George found out he needed major heart surgery. During the few weeks we had, prior to him going in the hospital, George and I went on a fast track course to meet our key initiatives needing completion including: getting a press release out announcing his involvement in BIZremedies and creating the video called, “The Power of Employee Engagement,” capturing George’s and my thoughts and experiences on leadership, strategic growth and employee engagement.

The next day, after our taping, George went in for his heart surgery, on April 12. It was at this time, while he fought for his health for seven months in the hospital, I learned first-hand the importance of having a clear business plan to stay the course, in spite of changing circumstances. It was also at this time I saw George’s leadership skills in full action. This time, he was engaging his nursing staff to meet the next goal. He never told them what to do, but would always engage them by asking, “What’s the next reachable goal? What do we have to do to get there? So if the plan doesn’t turn out as you had hoped, what will we do next?”

During my visits, George continued to exercise his leadership with me as well, often asking me how the business was doing. When I would share what I was working on, his favorite question he would ask me was, “And if that plan doesn’t turn out like you hoped, what will you do next to stay the course? What will be your plan B?”

The Tuesday before George died, I was able to have a short visit with him. I had a feeling that this would be my last visit. As I looked him deeply in the eyes, I told him how much I loved him and what a blessing he was in my life. I also told him that I was OK, that I would stay the course and that he would not have to worry about me.

Two days later, on Nov. 17, George passed onto eternal life. I will forever feel his spirit and guidance within me, asking me, “And now what will you do to stay the course?”

This experience taught me the importance of, despite obstacles, continuing to stay the course.

Challenge for you: Do you have a clear business plan? Have you engaged others to help you reach the goals? What will you do to stay the course, if your plan A doesn’t work out?

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