Date posted: 19/06/2017 3 min read

Is your company spinning its wheels?

Reviving an ailing business requires great leadership, an inspiring vision, passion and the will to survive.

In brief

  • When a business is struggling financially, the resulting stress and insecurity is felt throughout the team.
  • Great leaders inspire, are enthusiastic and have a vision that includes staff and customers.
  • Episode eight of the Acuity podcast investigates the simplicity of success with Ken Segall, former creative director of Apple.

The announcement on 14 June 2017 that Ten Network had entered voluntary administration poses questions around how new leadership may revive the struggling Australian commercial broadcasting network.     

Billionaire media owner Bruce Gordon and News Corporation’s Lachlan Murdoch have merged their holdings in the network in a move that may take the business out of administration and into private hands. This came after the pair declined to guarantee a A$250m finance package for the network.  

How will these leaders save a company that for more than three decades has produced Australian content that has helped shape and export an Australian identity? Is it time for a great leader to step up and demonstrate how to save a company from the brink?  

RELATED:  Ken Segall on the simplicity of success

Success is simplicity itself, according to former Apple creative director Ken Segall.

When a business is clearly struggling financially, the resulting stress and insecurity is felt throughout the team. But what do great leaders do when a company is spinning its wheels?

Great leaders can resurrect companies that may have otherwise ended up filing for bankruptcy. The late Steve Jobs, co-founder and former CEO of Apple, is one such leader.  

Jobs built Apple from the ground up, before departing in 1985 after a very public struggle with the organisation. He returned in 1996 when the company was dangerously close to bankruptcy. 

Build from the ground up

Ken Segall, former creative director of Apple, worked alongside Jobs for 12 years. In an interview with former CEO of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand Lee White in May 2017, Segall noted that Jobs’ experience outside of Apple from 1985 to 1996 was essential in resurrecting the iconic technology company.  

“He [Jobs] said years later that Apple was 90 days from bankruptcy,” says Segall. “He might have been exaggerating a bit. They were losing money every quarter. They were pretty bleak times.”  

Segall says Jobs was able to renew Apple and inspire a whole new set of employees.  

“He was a visionary. He managed to turn it into the most successful, most profitable company on Earth. It’s not just successful; it’s the world’s most successful.”

Time to let go of key holdings

Being able to identify areas in the business that can be streamlined or done away with completely is a skill. Being able to relate to a new generation and having a vision and enthusiasm are characteristics leaders can tune into that can help turn a company around.   

Good communication skills, being likeable and being able to build, and sustain, good relationships all sound simple on paper. These are qualities that have been found in leaders who have saved companies on the verge of bankruptcy.  

Ed Whitacre, former CEO of General Motors (GM), turned the company around after successfully selling off key holdings. He streamlined operations and steered the company to a public offering that raised over US$20b.   

Whitacre looked at the organisational structure of GM and made astute decisions after learning the intricacies of the roles and responsibilities of senior management. He then broke these down to a micro level to determine when and where senior management were required.

Network Ten is spinning its wheels and employees are in limbo. Is it time for a new generation of leaders to step up and challenge the status quo by looking at things in a new light, as Whitacre and Jobs did, to create a new vision?

Perhaps the solution is simple. In episode eight of the Acuity podcast, titled “Keep it simple for success with Ken Segall”, Segall reinforces simplicity, focus and approach as being important elements in business. These traits serve leaders well in times of crisis.  

“When you get people’s trust you can do things and they’re willing to follow you because you’ve proven your ability to make them happy,” he says. “Give people a simple solution so they can do these amazing things, but in the simplest way.  

“The world will remain complicated and simpler solutions will always be appreciated and will always stand out.”  

How to find our podcast

The Acuity podcast tackles the latest issues in economics, business and finance and is available to stream and download for free at 

Bookmark the Acuity Soundcloud page to keep up to date with new episodes as they are published. Or, you can subscribe to the Acuity podcast in your preferred format to receive new episodes directly via your chosen channel.