Most of the time when consultants, coaches or other “outside interventions” are tapped by leaders of organizations it’s because there is some type of crisis or turning point. Usually “the pain” has become high and the solutions to the issues just aren’t apparent to leadership. There are various causes of business pain, but the one we are going to focus on today is a common one. It is some variation of “go fix my people.” There is often a perception issues are being caused by an individual, several individuals, a department or team. Underneath it all, particularly within owner-entrepreneur types of environments, there is a very particular bottom line and let’s cut right to it. Owner/entrepreneurs work the way they work because they like it. It’s working for them. What “the pain” is almost always about is that the way they are working, is not creating the results they want and they don’t like it. However, the request is “go fix the other people!” Ultimately, so the owner/entrepreneur can continue with their patterns and approach without having to shift themselves. Sometimes, depending on how urgent the “pain” is, leaders will shift, but inevitably, the minute there is enough breathing room, they snap back to their previous ways. Just as inevitably, the patterns that don’t work for the business, (but work on a personal level for the leader), are back, and soon enough, the “pain” is back.
The most important challenge for leaders when there is business “pain” is to look in the mirror and ask tough questions. Sure, there may be some work that needs to be done with other people, or teams, but leaders set the mood, tone and culture to an enormous extent. So if you are a leader experiencing “business pain,” start with yourself and some fundamental questions:
- Who am I BEING as a leader? Meaning, what are my attitudes, beliefs and patterns of reaction? Am I willing to dig deep and understand my role in what is happening?
- Am I willing to change?
- Am I willing to create a vision for myself about the type of leader I am committed to being and am I willing to create a set of practices to support the fulfillment of that vision?
- Am I willing to find the support I need to make shifts?
Change is possible and change takes work. Whether a leader changes or not, energy is being expended. It takes energy to keep patterns in place when they aren’t working and there is a state of resistance. We call that ‘friction and waste,’ a subject we address in our blog posts on Lean Thinking. It takes energy to make changes. There is a cost either way. The question is - where does a leader “pay up?”
If any of this sounds familiar, consider taking yourself on, not just your teams, processes or organizational structure.
We have a proprietary approach and method we offer for this, and there are many others out there as well. The key is to find the one that resonates for you and get to it!