This memo is for upper management only. It summarizes key leadership lessons from last month's executive retreat at Mar-a-Lago.
C4 (Cutting Corners, Cutting Costs): As the team learned from our $15,000-a-day trainer, there's only one sure way to cut costs: Cut corners. Then cut more. Customary targets include nonexempt payroll, operations, and materials.
Figurehead management: Leaders are encouraged to serve largely as figureheads. Techniques for appearing important include surprise cubicle checks, facile remarks at employee get-togethers, and spending less than 50% of your time actually in the office.
Impression-based decision making: Countless studies have shown that facts merely slow down decision making. Leaders should rely instead on such critical tools as stereotyping and snap judgments before (or after) taking action.
Listening mode: When paralyzed by the prospect of having to make a decision, leaders should describe their deer-in-headlights expression as "listening mode." Colleagues will be impressed by your willingness to hear them out.
Pragmatic courage: Courage is essential to great leadership, but timing is everything. We prefer that executives display courage only in the face of certain success. The demonstration of courage at other times has been deemed "high risk" by Legal.
RIFs (Raise in financial status): People are our most important asset — but they're not necessarily yours. Given a choice between saving jobs and preserving your bonus, the Company expects its leaders to do the right thing.
A version of this article appeared in the September 2004 issue of Fast Company magazine.