Is it time to make faster business progress? Could your leadership actually be part of the problem?

Have you had enough of mediocre results or peaks and troughs that make it so hard to move forward?

Recently, I have met a startling number of business people who are tearing their hair out because the leadership team are not actually leading. They range from people who are actually on the leadership team to senior managers and other members of staff.

Every single one of them is at their wits end.

The sad truth is that, in many companies, business leaders pull in different directions, side stepping the tough questions that define what the company really stands for. They find it hard to agree a unified direction for the business that inspires them, let alone their staff. Nor do they have a clear, agreed business strategy. Ironically, their different opinions often actually slow the company’s progress.

These are not easy challenges to solve. Far from it, but…

Unless those leaders take time out to work through the challenges they will be plagued by frustrations. They will feel they have to run harder every year, just to keep up. They will flounder, their staff will not engage and it will always feel as if they are pushing water uphill.

1. Without strong direction and business strategy staff will not engage

Two of the most important ways to inspire staff to engage their hearts and minds to realise business goals are:

  • Building confidence in the leadership team’s ability to take the company somewhere worthwhile – somewhere that makes their hard work meaningful.
  • Working for a company they can be proud of.

Unfortunately, a recent study by Dale Carnegie showed that only 29% of staff felt this confidence. That means that 71% of staff come to work only to pay the bills, to do their job and what they are asked but no more. In fact, many of them spend their spare time looking for their next job.

What a total waste of great potential.

When staff are disengaged, it means the load on the top team is ridiculously heavy, making it impossible to create a successful company. To read about the 7 warning signs that your employees do not understand your company vision click here.

Apogee Ltd  is a great example of a company that offers strong leadership. They engage their staff fully because their business strategy is clear. Those employees bound into work every day, determined to ensure the company exceed its targets for each quarter, each year and even in the charitable adventures they embark on. The result is impressive. Their customers love the value they provide and the company continually grows at over 20% per annum! They have made it far easier to be a successful company.

Staff engagement gives you that all important edge over your competition so you can literally leave them standing…

2. Without alignment across the organisation you cannot build business momentum

It can be though to create alignment across the whole leadership team.

Without it though your company will be in trouble. Your different departments will end up focusing and pulling in different directions and toward different goals.
Customers, suppliers and employees will simply see a myriad of disconnects and frustrations as your business message, your delivery mechanisms and your customer service all seem disjointed.

We recently helped a pan-European professional services company to grow revenue and profit. Before the project started the MD complained that, while staff put the hours in, they were not really thinking each task through enough to propel the business forward. It felt like moving through treacle.

This is a sure sign of mis-alignment across the firm, which almost always starts at the top. We guided the leadership team to agree a direction for the business that really inspired them and created a powerful business strategy. Wonderfully, the energy was so good that the senior management team committed totally to what they had agreed. Then they cascaded it across their departments. As a result, momentum built and they started to grow for the first time in many years – at the impressive rate of over 11% per annum.

3. Without effective leadership you miss most business opportunities

Without clear, well- thought out leadership, in effect your company is simply a group of individuals that achieve little.

Without effective leadership you miss so many chances to harness the ability and creativity of your staff that your competition will pass you by. You will find it almost impossible to generate impressive growth levels or make a truly positive impact on your industry.

In our research for the Blueprint for Growth© every single company that consistently outperforms their industry takes these three steps:

  1. They spend time working out exactly what they wish to create. This is not just in terms of money but also of the value they want to deliver, the legacy they wish to leave, and what they wish to be known for. This gives them a strong direction.
  2. They thrash out answers to the questions that people are usually too nervous to even ask. For example, what people are worried about, what the company should stop doing and even where the current business reward schemes seem unfair.
  3. They use these two areas to develop a culture of openness and trust. Then after truly open discussions, they make the tough decisions in a way that ensures alignment, momentum and a strong sense of unity and togetherness.

Only after taking these 3 steps will your company start to grow and progress, showing the rest of the market what you are capable of, becoming a truly successful company.

What examples of good and bad leadership have you seen in business?

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