In part 1 of this interview with John Raftery we addressed issues of micromanagement, and the detrimental effects it can have on business leaders and their staff. In part 2 we address the task of reclaiming your role as a business leader. This task may appear daunting at first, but with a practical and methodical approach it’s possible to reassert your position as innovator, visionary and business leader.
How can a business leader reclaim the leadership role?
You’re talking about changing behaviour and that’s one of the most difficult things to do, whether it’s giving up smoking or losing weight or cutting down on drinking. These are all behaviours that are very challenging and we often need external help to tackle them. When we talk about changing the behaviour of your team, or how you reclaim the leadership role, it’s difficult to do but it can be done through a programme where you identify and articulate what the issues are.
Why is there a lack of confidence or performance? What are the capabilities of the management team? What’s the level of trust between the management team and the business owner? What’s the level of performance versus the level of potential? All of these things are in the mix, and from that you have to try and reshape the management team, and at the same time get the leader to change their behaviours and their way of managing.
What are the first steps in reclaiming the leadership role?
It will have to start with the relationship between the business owner and the senior management team. In an organisation where the owner is there every day, there is a lack of clarity about the role of the senior managers. It’s very up in the air. Responsibility is spread across a number of people. Those organisations are not good at structure, clarifying roles or measuring the impact of each department and assigning accountability to senior managers. Or getting them to report regularly, weekly or monthly, so you get a clear insight into business performance. Or get clear accountability so you can assign performance to individuals. You have to create that environment.
When you create that environment the owner should then be able to step back and look more at the bigger picture, the bigger issues. The big issue could be one or two managers who are just not capable of performing at the level required. They can step back and deal with those bigger issues. A lot of SMEs just get stuck into the work and build up a lot of knowledge about the product or service, but they don’t get any formal training in managing people or management methodologies.
You can get away with that to a certain level, but it can eventually undermine the business, so you have to determine if it’s a capability issue or a training issue, or is it just the wrong person in the wrong job. The management team have to know what their strengths are and play to those strengths. Some managers end up becoming involved in areas they should not be involved in.
How can LEAP help business leaders reclaim the leadership role?
Over the years I have seen a lot of people in leadership roles observe problems in their organisations but they don’t know what to do about them. So they often go and decide there is a problem with a particular supervisor or department. Then they go out and get them a training programme and hope the programme will address the issue and they don’t really look beyond that.
But very often we find the issue is not really with the supervisor, it might be with a senior manager or even the owner, but they don’t see that, so there is a great benefit to getting someone external to see what exactly the issues are within the whole organisation. Going back to what I said earlier on about changing behaviours, you do need an external force to help you change behaviours. It’s very hard to do it on your own.
Does LEAP act as that external force for business owners?
That’s what LEAP offer, a sounding board. LEAP can act as an honest broker between people and give a non-biased view of people and situations where there’s no vested interest. A lot of people would be afraid of upsetting the apple cart, acting very cautiously and that gets in the way of real honesty. People’s motives are not as clear as they should be and cultures build up in a company, like a culture of fire-fighting, or a blame culture, and that can spread right throughout the organisation.
It’s very hard to get it out and it can have huge detrimental effects. Sometimes people within the organisation can’t see it because they are the culture. But someone external can see it straight away and challenge it, and also figure out how they are going to help the organisation rid themselves of that culture, and replace it with something more positive and beneficial.
If I’m a business owner struggling with these issues why should I call LEAP?
Because of our depth of experience; we have undertaken very transformative programmes with companies where we have had a serious impact on their business. Another reason is the level of integrity. If we feel that a client is not on board with us, if we feel there is a lack of honesty, we would walk away from an assignment if we felt it wasn’t right for us, or for the business owner. Integrity is huge and I think people pick up on that when they meet us, that we genuinely want to help clients. We have the knowledge, the experience and we have the track record of being able to help.