Leaders Know How to Take Stock

Frozen, vacuum-sealed cuts of meat

Perhaps I’m dating myself a bit with the title of this week’s article, “Leaders Know How to Take Stock.” Many of you know what this means. But perhaps there are some of you who, either because of generation, geographic, or language differences don’t really get it. That’s okay. Hopefully by the end of the article it will become clearer. But for now, let’s just say that “taking stock” means assessing what you have available. Make sense?

We’re in the process of cleaning out our freezer. It’s time. Perhaps it’s that “spring cleaning” thing but we’ve decided to clean out our freezer instead of adding to its contents. Typically, we have a lot of meat in the freezer. We occasionally freeze vegetables and fruit, but 80-90% of what you’d find in our freezer at any given time is meat. Chicken. NY Strip. Salmon. Ribs. Filet. Brisket. Pulled pork. Turkey. You know, the good stuff! Some of it has never been prepared while some of it has been grilled, smoked, fried, or baked. Much of it originated from meals I smoked and was leftover.

For example, I have two packages of prime rib that have been smoked. Some time ago, I cut off the ribs, rubbed them with a marinade, sea salt, black pepper, herbs de Provence, and then inserted some garlic cloves and rosemary every 2” before tying the ribs back on. I smoked them for several hours and served with some delicious homemade horseradish sauce. Hungry yet? Me too! It was the best prime rib I’ve ever eaten. The entire neighborhood smelled great!

The problem is that I smoked 4 “bones” of prime rib that weighed almost 10 pounds! And this was just for the two of us. So, I cut and vacuum sealed several bags (each with two pieces of prime rib) for us to eat at a later date. You see how this works. It’s difficult to buy and prepare great cuts of meat in small portions and we inevitably have a lot of leftovers unless we’re hosting neighbors, guests, family, or the kids are back in town (like at Christmas).

So to clean out the freezer, I first assessed what I had available. I took stock. This is one of the first steps in the planning process. Taking stock is part of preparation and planning. In the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle, it’s part of the Plan step. In classic problem-solving, taking stock comes right after you’ve defined the problem. Here’s the problem, what do I have on-hand that could help solve or alleviate the problem? For those of you familiar with Joseph’s story in the Bible, what did he do when faced with a famine? He stored grain and continually took stock of the inventory. Then when the famine hit, he was prepared to deal with the crisis.

The same principal applies in our lives. When you’re faced with a problem, take an assessment of what you have on-hand or available to you. Take stock. For example, how much money (or other liquid assets) do you have on-hand? What friends, family, or colleagues can help provide assistance or insight (never underestimate the value of your network)? Are you unable to drive yourself to the doctor? Who do you know who would be willing to take you? Facing a relational issue? To whom can you reach out? Your pastor? Parents? Spouse?

You get the point. When faced with scarcity, crisis, or opportunity, great leaders know how to take stock. And they recognize that it’s an important and value-added step. They also know that the best time to build your stock is not during the crisis. You need to be prepared ahead of time. You need to build your network. You need to develop and sustain relationships. That way, when you take stock, you’ll find available assets (food, money, friends, family, relationships, faith, etc.) that can be of practical help.

Earlier today (6am to be exact!), a life-long friend of mine reached out to me requesting information about Winston-Salem, NC (restaurants, coffee shops, things to do, etc.). He was planning short trip there with his wife (e.g. he had an opportunity). He took stock and remembered that I’d lived in Winston for a couple years. He reached out and I gave him some great inside scoop. That’s how it works. It’s that simple. This friend is a great leader and he knows how to take stock. He maintains a strong network and knows how and when to leverage it. It begins with taking stock (knowing your baseline).

We have pulled pork, NY Strip, filet mignon, chicken, crab, queso, scallops, prime rib, and ham that’s in our freezer. After taking stock, we developed a high-level plan for the next few weeks that will allow us to eat like “kings and queens.” Our short-term grocery bill will drop as we purchase less meat. And then we’ll slowly build it up again. It’s part of the fun (for us anyway!).

Regardless of your eating and cooking habits (you might be a vegetarian or vegan with no meat in your freezer, that’s cool), remember to build your network, grow your assets (hint: not all assets are physical!) and take stock the next time you face opportunity, crisis, scarcity or routine problems. Great leaders do.

Have a great week and remember to take stock. Be a great leader.

is an agent of change and is able to balance the needs of the business and the needs of people. Dr. Gerwig believes and practices the values of performance and delivery of business metrics while simultaneously developing and growing people into leaders. You can contact him at RobertGerwig[at]LeadStrategic.com.

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