Putting the Leadership Contract into Action

In Into the Blast Furnace: The Forging of a CEO's Conscience, author Courtney Pratt shares his experience as the leader of a large steel manufacturer going through a complex and drawn-out corporate restructuring.

The company was in serious financial trouble brought on by years of poor leadership and management neglect. Technology was out of date, costs were out of control, the pension deficit had ballooned, and the relationship with the union was extremely adversarial.

To make matters worse, the chief executive officer (CEO) of the company left. Given the poor state of the company, the board knew it would be impossible for them to successfully attract and secure a new CEO. So they asked Pratt if he would lead the company. Pratt was a seasoned C-suite leader. He made the leadership decision to take on the role even though he knew it was going to be an extremely challenging and difficult experience.

Soon after assuming the role, Pratt had a closer look at the financials of the company and realized the situation was far worse than anyone had ever anticipated. The company was in a desperate financial state and was going to run out of cash very soon. Pratt and his management team explored all options, and it soon became apparent that the only way forward was to enter bankruptcy protection so that they could restructure the company and position it for future growth.

Pratt was clear about his obligations during this process. He wanted ...

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