Sport Business, Sports Marketing | Jan 10, 2017
Brad Sims, Cleveland Cavaliers

Brad Sims was the 2015 winner of the Leaders Under 40 Awards Sales and Commercial category. The search is on for 2017 to find the next Leaders Under 40 and if you feel you should be on stage collecting your award this October, or you know someone who deserves to be there, nominate here

I first became familiar with Dan Gilbert and his family of companies when I was working at the NBA League Office and visiting the Cleveland Cavaliers on a regular basis consulting on their business. Dan is the founder and owner of Quicken Loans, he also owns the Cavaliers, as well as other sports, entertainment and gaming properties, numerous venture capital and private equity and real estate companies. All told, the Dan Gilbert family of companies is a diverse portfolio of 120+ companies who all operate under one set of guiding principles – The ISM’s.

When I was hired by the Cavs, I was excited to work for an ownership and leadership group who was like-minded to how I operate.  The ISM’s made so much sense to me and I bought in from day one that this was the “secret sauce” that helped make Dan’s companies so successful.

Although it’s difficult for me to pick just one favorite ISM from the total 19, the one that I have adopted as my “go to” ISM is “You Have to Take the Roast Out of the Oven”.  This ISM has to do with decision making.  If you, as a leader, hem and haw and take forever to make a decision, the roast is in the oven… and it’s burning!  At some point you have to “take the roast out of the oven” – you have to make a decision – and move on to the next one.

Leaders can sometimes get “paralysis by analysis” and have a tough time making decisions.  From my time in a management consulting role at the NBA, one of the most frequent criticisms that I received from employees about their leaders was their inability to make decisions in a timely manner.  This lack of decisiveness is especially frustrating for millennials.  The beauty of “taking the roast out”, in ISM terms, is that it’s OK if you, as a leader, make a mistake, make a bad decision – as long as you learn something valuable from it.  This is viewed as being a far superior outcome to not making a decision at all and leaving the roast in the over to get burned.

Knowing that the lack of timely decision making was a pain point for so many employees, I wanted to make it clear when I started my new role at the Cavs that I intended to be a leader who was decisive and who would move at a very fast pace to help move our business forward.  My first order of business (literally on my first day on the job) was to ask for a poster size version of the animated “Roast” ISM to be created so that I could post it prominently in my office.

ISM’s are like trump cards – there’s no comeback for them.  If someone calls you out on an ISM, there’s really nothing you can say or do that would be contradictory to an ISM.  Over the past four years, whenever I have been pushing one of our leaders for a decision on something, I can always point to the “Roast” poster to not-so-subtly remind them that they need to make a final decision on something.  And it works the other way too, anyone on my team knows that if I’m ever the bottleneck for a decision that needs to be made that they can call me out and point to that poster to get me to make a decision so we can move on to the next one.

I believe that “taking the roast out” has made me a better leader.  It has helped me to work smarter, be more efficient, be more of a risk taker, and instill confidence in my people to do the same.

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