You can also lead a human to knowledge but you can’t make them think.

Time and time again I see businesses making the most foolish mistakes.  I watch from afar, with an impartial view and often shake my head.  It makes me want to scream with frustration and I question how some of these people have become leaders.

Working with companies who embrace an external, birds eye view of the company, allows me to demonstrate quite quickly  what a true ROI it becomes.  The leaders and owners are ‘in’ the business, up to their ears in it and too busy fire fighting to recognise anything happening around them or identifying the need for something as simple as a second opinion on something.  A business needs to thrive, particularly in this day and age, and to survive by doing things the way you’ve always done it will leave you exactly where you are.

My frustrations have been hi-lighted by leaders actions, the lack of thought, the arrogance, often I believe lack of intelligence.  To be a successful, well respected, leader you don’t have the luxury of being self-centred, not having time, or being egotistical, you have a whole host of people watching, criticising and taking everything you do or say quite precisely because it’s your job to guide them.

  The biggest jaw droppers have been recently whilst we are all encapsulated in this world pandemic, an unknown territory where staff are furloughed, wages reduced, lost their job and little light at the end of the tunnel.  I  have witnesses leaders demonstrating their own personal wealth and lavish lifestyles whether it be on social media, or within the business spending money on launching frivolous support to others.  This is a true smack in the face for the workers of the business, struggling to make ends meet.  It makes me question if they seriously know what they are doing?

Employees need structure, guidance, nurturing, support.  They take things so literally and whilst  you may feel they are ‘just there to do a job and paid for it’ morale amongst the staff can drop at a faster rate than it can be built up, this in turn has a dramatic effect on the business and could get you in a whole heap of trouble.   Where does this leave the lavish lifestyles and the gratuitous spending then?

As a business leader you are taken at your word and accountable for every decision or action you make, don’t make promises that aren’t fulfilled, don’t ‘fob’ them off, communicate!, something I recognise constantly, lack of true, honest, thorough communication.   If you say you are going to get back to them do it regardless of how busy you are, give yourself a reminder, at whatever cost you have to bet true to your word.

Some mistakes I have witnesses of late and caused me to put my head in my hands, make me just wish those ‘committing the crimes’ could sit back where I am and see what they are doing.  Not too often thankfully, but I have been in positions where the higher management have contacted me questioning what I can do for them, we start with a discussion of how they reached a decision  to contact me, where the business is currently and where they would like to be going forward.

From that first call I feel the enthusiasm, the excitement of having a light at the end of a tunnel and we set about the journey of making improvements, changes and bridging those gaps. Things that need to happen start to happen.  Here we begin involving the staff and the whole business changes, positivity is injected and embraced in abundance, those rebels quickly become your shining stars and you have an amount of willing helpers you didn’t even know had it in them, there is a spark in their eyes eager to get this show on the road, relieved they’ve got someone doing what they have yearned for.  THEN a bit of the usual work lands, the business get a few extra orders in on the back of changes made and the higher management revert to kind.  ‘We’re too busy’, I’m told.

 At this point I explain the importance of being proactive in a business, change has to be consistent and that they will lose the allegiance from the staff and their trust account, we worked so hard to build will once again become empty.  Employees lose faith in you, they see that things will never change, never improve, never grow, no progression, all just for those at the top. 

I have engaged in conversations with employees at this stage and it makes me wonder if an employee can see what is needed, why cant those that are at the front leading not see this? The excitement, positivity and loyalty that supported the business in its potential future journey has gone immediately, everyone just return to their grindstone and its back to ‘the way we’ve always done it because that’s what we’re told to do’.    No more excitement of being proud to show their families and friends newspaper articles about the company they work for or posts they can comment on with the companies social media presence they feel a part of.

The danger of this situation is that it can be irreversible, your staff are lost, maybe even looking for new employers that will show progression and involve their employees. Your customers and the outside world start to wonder what’s happened, they’ve recognised the business starting to evolve and been on the side-lines waiting to eagerly see what’s next.  When you stop this is when others start to take an interest,  your competitors see an opening, they can get in front, they can continue with their plans of moving forward because yet again you aren’t a threat.  You will revert back to being the company they can send work to that others are too busy to complete, second or even third choice but how long that will last nobody knows. In the meantime all the best laid plans have been forgotten and everyone’s lost interest.

To return to the title; “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink”   It is so important to keep moving forward in a business, leaders barely have time to see the wood for trees and this is how mindless mistakes can be made.  As a leader you are to do the best for the business, understand the beliefs, values, and opinions of everyone within it and lead by example.  I advise constantly on key areas of the importance of communication, leadership, values, progression, perception of others and where you are placed in this big wide world of business.  I am at your beckon call constantly pushing the business forward……but I can only make it happen if everyone is onboard.  

“Success occurs when your dreams are bigger than your excuses”

“Don’t try and build a team that fuels your ego, build a team that has the skills, desire and passion to help you create your vision”

Mistakes are made by humans but when the responsibility is on the leaders shoulders they must exhibit the ability of taking the role on and the awareness of the enormity of the job in hand.  

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