When Michael Golden took over as CEO of Smith & Wesson in 2004, he faced a bleak situation. The world-famous revolver brand had been shooting blanks while competitors stole markets and opportunities went untargeted. Under Golden's leadership, Smith & Wesson has improved marketing, introduced new product lines, such as rifles and shotguns, and acquired companies to expand into new markets, such as perimeter security. Here, he shares the leadership methods that he relied on throughout this remarkable turnaround.
"From my first day at Smith & Wesson, I knew that this 150-year-old company had leadership problems," he says. "It was a legendary brand with dedicated, hardworking employees. But when one of them told me in all earnestness that the company 'kind of runs itself', I knew no one at the top was setting direction. No business runs itself, not even one with Smith & Wesson's considerable assets. If there was any unsupervised running going on, it was an old and storied organization running itself in circles to nowhere. Five years later, I can happily report that Smith & Wesson is back where it belongs, in position as the undisputed leader in the American handgun industry. I don't pretend to know all the answers, or even most of them, but my approach to leadership and my insistence on performance have helped resurrect a company that most observers had written off as a growth story long ago."