Leadership for profit

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Stop me if youve heard this before, but, BUSINESS IS GETTING TOUGHER!

And its going to get even more competitive as more and more leading edge products become even more widely available at lower and lower cost. How then can we in business establish and maintain a strong position when a competitive edge with technology and products is so quickly overtaken by the next generation? I believe that we do it by making the very best of our greatest business asset -- our people.

Within this series of articles Im going to talk about some people issues that can pay real dividends in terms of performance and the bottom line. This way forward is not always easy, if it was, then everybody would be doing it and reaping the benefits. Dont just pay lip service to the idea of developing your people, commit to spending your time and money to making it work. If youre still with me then lets go for it!

First of all lets just clear the decks and dispel a widely held belief; poor results are rarely any one elses fault. Directors and managers - dont blame your team, remember youve got the responsibility - and the rewards! Perhaps its a leadership issue?

Over my past twenty plus years in business Ive come across the usual gamut of leaders from the do as I tell you school of management through to the super touchy-feely no direction types. In this time, there has been one factor more common than any other -- many would-be leaders have had little or no training in leadership skills.

Todays leaders have to operate in the toughest business environment ever, margins are tight, decisions need to be made more quickly and the consequences for getting it wrong can be, and often are catastrophic.
Its for these reasons that I believe that people issues have become so important, as the technology playing field gets more and more level -- so people are becoming the secret weapon in business performance.

Good leaders need to demonstrate their business culture and ethics in their day-to-day work, dont expect people to work hard if you dont!

Other aspects of performance stem directly from the leader, people need to know where the company is going and the leaders vision, clearly articulated at every opportunity is vital in establishing a sense of common purpose. Ask yourself whether your team is fully aware of your aims, hopes and ambitions for your company and if not why not? This brings up the question of true communication in the organisation, not just telling, but listening and taking notice of the feedback. How many times have we seen one-way briefings, with staff too nervous, cynical or suspicious to enter into any meaningful exchanges?

Which leads us to the question of honesty -- dont tell them on a Monday that they are your greatest resource then sack half of them a few weeks later on the back of a short term sales blip. Again, dont tell them lies, I know that you cant always tell the full story, tell them as much as you can. This may mean that you need to be a little brave, thats just as well because youll need it when you make the decision to give people more true responsibility. Think though that when you do this you can be sure that theyll make a few mistakes -- but didnt you in your early days? Just make sure that you give them support when they need it.

This loosening of the reins is not always easy but its necessary and a common bonus is that you find that some people are actually better at some aspects of the job than you yourself! I know its hard to believe, but it happens. That reminds me, just remember you cant do everything, dont be afraid to recruit key specialists to support your plan.

Thats leadership in a nutshell -- vision, communication, bravery, honesty and sheer hard work. The skills we need to be a good leader are not inherited and they can all be learned. And for a recent example of the difference leadership and team spirit can make we need look no further than the glorious Ashes series win by our very own England cricket team-well done Michael Vaughan!

Are you a manager or a leader?

 

ManagerLeader
Is a copyIs an original
AdministersInnovates
MaintainsDevelops
Focus on systems and structuresFocus on people
Relies on controlInspires trust
Has a short range viewHas a long-range perspective
Asks how and whenAsks what and why
Has eye on bottom lineHas an eye on the the horizon
Accepts the status quoChallenges the status quo
Is the classic good soldierIs their own person
Does things rightDoes the right thing

 

And remember: Failing organisations are usually over-managed and under-led. W. G. Bennis, President, Univ. Cincinnati, USA.

If there are any specific issues, which youd like me to deal with please get in touch.



Stephanie Greasley has considerable experience as a senior business professional, operating internationally with more that 25 years experience, including 15 years in the ADC industry. She held management positions with PSC, Symbol Technologies and ScanSource -- where as MD she took the company from start-up to its position as Europes leading Automatic Data Capture Distributor. She now works independently as an Executive Coach and Business Growth Consultant in her own company CCI -- Coaching, Consulting & Implementation.

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