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Sunday, 2 December 2012

Still Doing the Same Things? You Need Constantly to Question the Status Quo!

Over the years I have come more and more to realise that many leaders need not to be more assertive and even, heaven forbid, aggressive but actually to back off more

The fact is that many leaders put in far too much time in the actual running of the business and far too little time into working on it, visioning the future and planning to take the business forward.

I have said before and I say it again; while the finances of the company are vitally important, especially the cash situation, forensic examination of the management accounts does nothing positive except to irritate the finance department who prepared them.

When I was involved in Slater Walker in the 1970s discussion of the accounts at every board meeting was limited to no more than twenty minutes and most of the time was taken up with “where are we going?” not “where have we been?”

This implies that someone needs to lead that charge and, in the main, the majority of people on the business are rightly preoccupied with the day to day to worry too much about the long term future.

The leader must know what and where that bright shining star is, the answer to “where are we going?” and the single overall objective and purpose of the business.

Sure, there needs to be consultation and agreement at top team level so that there is buy in from everyone, but in the end it is the function of the leader to make that great decision.

In other words the leader has to stop the “leave it to me, I’ll do it and sort it out” syndrome which immediately engenders that bane of every leader’s life – upwards delegation.

Not content with poor or non-existent delegation, the “leave it to me” leader has to start doing everyone else’s jobs for them simply because her/she just can’t let go and, let’s be honest, because they do not trust those under them to do the job properly and effectively.

That word “trust” is possibly the most emotive simply because it is at the heart of leadership.  The leader needs always to be questioning the team and indeed, the whole of the status quo.  Can we do this differently, better, more simply, more effectively?

Thomas Edison said:

·       There is a better way to do it – find it!”

Unless there is compete trust and indeed mutual trust, questioning and challenging will tend to be seen as implied reprimand whereas it should be considered as a genuine attempt to improve the shining hour.

In the end, the leader needs to have time to consider, to cogitate, to wander round the business, to talk to people, and above all, to take time out working on it, not in it.

Understandably most leaders would hesitate to put the feet up on the desk, close the eyes and expect the team to realise that what is happening is a productive use of the leader’s time.

In fact, it is but visibly it may seem to be a little self-indulgent.  Accordingly the leader must clear the decks, and take time out to work on the future of the business while keeping a weather eye open for the present and what is needed to achieve the long term objectives.

I suppose I am suggesting that the leader needs to wok a way out of allowing and trusting the team to get on with the day to day running of the business and hence to devote his/her time to working on the future.

It’s not about forecasting - it’s about deciding what is needed to be done in order to achieve the objectives.
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