One of the perennial complaints of Vistage members and certainly the owner managers, at least in my experience, is that the troops don't think like I do, they aren't as enthusiastic, they aren't as committed.
Why does this come as such a surprise? The person starting and/or running a business is there precisely for that reason; the thinking, enthusiasm and commitment are in the DNA. On the other hand unless that thinking process, enthusiasm and commitment is transmitted constantly into the business then it is understandable that people look upon it as a job and not a career.
It all comes down to the culture in the business and defining it and driving it into the core of the business is the responsibility of the leader.
Too often, and again especially in owner managed businesses, the owner succumbs to to the "if I don't do it, then it won't be done properly" syndrome and that leads to upward delegation. The upshot is, of course, a lack of initiative and a reluctance to make decisions. It is far easier to move the monkey off your back and shift it on to the leader's. Job done.
None of that, of course, helps the team to the thinking, enthusiasm and commitment so desired by the leader, and in the end morale suffers.
It is not all doom, gloom and despondency, however. The culture of the business, if properly designed and defined by the leader will, and certainly should, encourage innovation, creative thinking, and a positive approach to decision making. I know that it probably now a business cliche but the idea of "bring to me solutions, not problems", is a great start.
Equally one of my Vistage members has scrapped his weekly Executive Meeting in favour of a Communication Meeting for everyone who wishes to be there when all ideas are encouraged and accepted for consideration. At the same time, the leader can and will be open in telling the team precisely what is happening, both for good and for less than good.
This is a radical idea and deserves a great deal of thought. Giving the people in the business more autonomy and realising that they have, all of them, a great deal to offer, can completely transform a business for the better.
People want to know two things - how am I doing and where are we going? If they can materially contribute to the answers of both of those questions, then the problems of lack of thinking, enthusiasm and commitment will rapidly disappear.
On a very topical note and with tongue firmly ensconced in the cheek on this post SuperBowl Monday, it is well to recall Vince Lombardi, the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers (triumphant last night) who said "I want you guys to be fired with enthusiasm because if you aren't, then you'll be fired - with enthusiasm!" What more can I say?
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