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Lessons In Leadership: Interview with CEO Global Network Member Steve Litwin, President, Litcom
August 2nd, 2017
Based in Toronto, Litcom provides strategic business technology consulting services and project delivery to mid-to-large sized firms both in Canada and the U.S. Litcom helps their clients solve the pressing IT issues that are that holding them back from being the companies they desire to be.
What inspired you to start Litcom?
I had worked for large global consulting firms (Deloitte, Ernst & Young, SHL Systemhouse) for most of my career and got tired of not being in control of my destiny or having the ability to decide on the services I could deliver or the clients I could serve. So, in 2003, I decided to launch a boutique consulting firm that specializes in providing a suite of IT strategy and implementation services to clients in the mid-market space. I wanted to help these companies grow by leveraging technology for maximum advantage to create more of an immediate and wide-ranging impact.
What was one of the main challenges you faced in building Litcom?
In the early days I performed all the key roles within the company – not only was I consulting; I was recruiting consultants, performing all of the marketing and sales tasks, and handling the administration. One of my toughest decisions was to relinquish some control and start hiring people to take on some of these responsibilities so that I could focus on what I do best – Business Development.
What advice would you give someone starting a company for the first time?
- Be clear about the reason you are starting the company in the first place.
- Decide what your role will be within the company and then figure out how you will cover all the other areas of the business.
- It typically takes longer than you expect to get things rolling, and you will probably need to work much harder than you did in the past, especially at first. Make sure you have access to more money than you think you need – even in your most conservative estimates. Cash flow can sink a business before it really gets going.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing business leaders today?
For me, prioritizing what I should focus on is one of my biggest challenges. There are so many competing priorities to deal with on a daily basis. It’s easy to get caught up in immediate, urgent issues – which can distract me from dealing with the important issues that will truly help me achieve my vision.
What is the greatest leadership challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?
When I lost one of my most senior executives, I wasn’t sure how I would replace him or cover the business until I found someone new. Initially I jumped in to handle both his job and mine, as it was critical to me that my customers wouldn’t be at all impacted by his departure. Once I got things under control, I had a better vision of the type of person I would need to hire to replace him. This turned out to be a very helpful experience.
What is the #1 question you would ask someone you were considering for a leadership position?
What qualities do you think a successful leader should possess and how have you demonstrated these qualities in your previous jobs?
What is the best business book that you have read and why?
Earlier this year I read Never Split the Difference – Negotiating as If Your Life Depended on It by Chris Voss. Chris is a former FBI hostage negotiator, and the concepts he outlines in the book are amazing and deliver results immediately. I used one of his techniques in a difficult contract negotiation which resulted in a successful six-figure outcome. Without the technique, I am sure the outcome would not have been as favourable.
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Harald held several key positions over his 40 year career with WESCO Distribution Canada Inc. – a leading distributor of electrical construction products. Most recently, as Group Vice President and General Manager between 2005 and 2015, Harald successfully grew revenues from under $500 million to over $2 billion and managed the acquisition and integration of […] Learn more.
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I struggled with the concept that other CEOs would take an interest in me and my company and provide constructive criticism with the sole purpose of helping me continue to be a better leader. Having now been a Member for over three years, I can definitively say that I only wish I had joined earlier. Peter Reaume President, NLS