Small Business

Is lack of leadership holding my business back?

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Ever thought about what’s wrong with your business? Maybe you can’t work out why it is hard to keep good staff and you wonder why?

Here’s a thought – it could be your leadership.

American leadership guru, John Maxwell, who was recently here in Australia and has sold over 20 million books on the subject of leadership, mainly, puts its importance into a neat nutshell.

“Everything rises and falls on leadership – everything.”

But some people say, you must mean it’s the most important but there are other things, aren’t there? But he reinstates his position – “everything”.

Sure, other factors can make business life hard – try a Global Financial Crisis – but when you think about it, most CEOs of the top companies held their jobs. Only the duds whose companies were not led properly were shown the door.

At a speech I was speaking at recently, I asked the entrepreneurs attending to list the problems that most worried them and none of them wrote down “my leadership”, though they did refer to aspects of it, in saying that they found Gen Y staff members difficult.

To these people I ask if they expect a Gen Y staff member to ever come in on a Monday and say: “I have been thinking about you over the weekend and I have concluded that I have been challenging to work with, so I have decided to become the worker you want me to be.”

This always draws a cynical laugh but I then suggest if you don’t think that your Gen Y staff won’t do this voluntarily, then who has to do the changing? The answer is obvious – you, the leader, should lead the change.

Maxwell says he was knocked out in the 1970s when his mentor asked him what his plan for self-improvement was. He confessed he did not have one and his mentor pondered how he was going to acquire the skills to lead someone if he was not always uploading his skills set to be ahead of the people he was planning to lead?

Maxwell says something like this, “If you are a leader and you look around and no one is following you, you are not leading, you’re taking a walk.”

Recently, I heard American Liz Wiseman, the author of the bestseller Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter and a former senior executive at Oracle. She said some leaders are “diminishers” while others are multipliers. The diminishers make decisions and might ask for debate, while the multipliers ask questions – lots of questions on how things can be done better – and they listen.

They stretch their team and their team relishes the long leash and the results are miles better.

Diminishers think they have the answers, can be tyrannical and create stress. They are micromanagers and tell people what to do – they lose people.

The multiplier, on the other hand, believes their people are smart, because they recruit well, and they will work many things out. They are talent magnets and they create space for better thinking.

What Wiseman argues is that great leaders can better tap into the collective intelligence of their team and when she cites examples she goes to people like Apple’s Steve Jobs and COO, Tim Cook.

Certainly their company’s results speak volumes for multiplier leadership.

Wiseman actually used the questioning technique of a multiplier on her usually chaotic bedtime routine with her four young kids. At bedtime, she asked them, what time was it? What do we do now? And so on, and she was surprised how she did not have to yell and direct them.

They were smarter and better than she thought and she rid herself of a daily frustration. Now, that’s leadership.

If you’re looking to work on your business rather than being stuck in it, book in for a complimentary business assessment today with Switzer Business Coaching.

Important information: This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

Published on: Monday, November 21, 2011

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