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Edition 136 – Implosion

Here’s a story about a large family business. It has different families involved.

The Chief Executive Officer is Malcolm. Most of the people in the business think he’s doing OK. He’s trying to move the business forward and has come up with some ideas. Some of them work, some don’t. In spite of that, by and large, the business is on track, making money and paying down debt.

The Chief Financial Officer is Scott. It has taken a while, however, he seems to have figured out how the finances work in this business. He was promoted to the role when Malcolm was appointed the CEO. He’d like the top job one day, but relies heavily on his offsider, Matthias, to help sort things out in his current role.

Heading the International Sales Department is Julie. A very capable performer, she’s occupied a role that can be challenging given how much time she spends on the road. She has been known to drive a hard bargain with her international sales colleagues. The board has wondered from time to time whether she would be ideal for the CEO role eventually.

In the Australian Sales Department you’ve got a bunch of others managers. Greg, Michael, Dan – they’ve pottered along looking after their own product lines and building their customer base. Some have done OK. None of them are setting the place on fire.

The sales department has a couple of former managers who lost their jobs because of poor performance or misdemeanours. The company didn’t want to let Tony or Barnaby go as they have loyal customers that deliver profits to the business. The problem is, Tony and Barnaby have never quite got over the fact they once occupied the corner offices with the views – and desperately want to break out of the workstations and back into the comfy chairs.

Whilst this is all happening, there is the Head of Security, Peter. He’s creating a nuisance. He doesn’t believe Malcolm is on the right course for the business and is causing trouble. He’s creating concern amongst the staff by suggesting that Malcolm’s current strategy for the business is placing their jobs in jeopardy. He’s got bigger plans – or says he does, except no one knows what they really are other than the fact that he wants Malcolm’s job.

Can you see the problem in this business? I can:

  1. The CEO hasn’t been tough enough on some of the poor performers in the business in the past and should have moved them on ages ago. That would have shown true leadership.
  2. The CEO has some great plans for the business. However, he only just got the gig by a slim majority at a board meeting a couple of years ago. He needs to tone down his ideas to keep the board happy – making you question whether, for him, is it all about being in the top chair, or is it all about taking the business to the next level and securing its future?
  3. People that were formerly managers will always create havoc in your business. If they’re no longer good enough to be in management, they’re no longer good enough to be in your business. You need to move them on.
  4. Whilst ever you have a management team that is divided, you are focussing inwards – and not on the customers.
  5. When you’re not focussing on the customers, you’re not listening to what they’re saying about your product or service standards. Which means you let them down even more.
  6. When you’ve stopped looking after the customer and their needs, the numbers will start to show very quickly.

If this all sounds like a bit of a mess, you can only imagine what it would be like if a country was run this way?

This Week’s Tip

“Leadership is all about creating a picture of the future, then taking your people, your customers, your bankers and your family on that journey into the future. As a leader, are you clear what that future looks like?”