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Conquer BSAPs one by one

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in Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

Perhaps you’ve heard of BHAGs: Big Hairy Audacious Goals. That’s the term author Jim Collins co-created to describe a strategic vision that leaders articulate.

But you’ve never heard of BSAPs: Big Scary Audacious Problems. That’s because you’re reading it here for the first time. When you face seemingly intractable problems, you can become immobilized. Some managers will panic when confronted with a high-stakes crisis that exposes their lack of knowledge. But even if you don’t feel qualified to address it, you must forge ahead.

“I think the definition of leadership is the willingness to put oneself in unfamiliar positions, and I certainly had to do that,” said Richard Lenny, former chairman and chief executive of The Hershey Co., in an alumni profile published by the Kellogg School of Management. “I was thrown into situations I hadn’t experienced before, yet I had to lead the organization through a period of great change.”

To navigate through unfamiliar terrain, you may find yourself relying on skills that you didn’t know you had. You cannot help but grow as a leader when you’re confronting huge problems in areas that seem foreign with lots of swirling unknowns.

Lenny, who retired from Hershey in late 2007, faced plant closures, a labor strike and the aborted sale of the company by its controlling charitable trust. These harrowing problems were largely new experiences for him, but he persevered and led the firm to outperform its competitors.

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