How do your Leaders compare?

With great ‘can do’ leaders in your business do you stand a better chance of success?

Stupid question, of course you do. A common sense thing to say and what’s more, we all believe we’re great leaders.

So why do some of us struggle? Not only when dealing with our own people but when dealing with our clients and suppliers? Maybe it’s because common sense doesn’t imply common practice.

In these changing and challenging times, a business actually needs most if not all employees thinking and acting like winners. But all too often we see activity where employees are throwing up their hands in defeat or metaphorically curling up in the foetal position. Commonly referred to as ‘learned helplessness’.

Don’t think that business life has the monopoly here – we don’t vote in elections because we can’t be bothered or it won’t make a difference even if we can be bothered. At the last council elections less than 30% actually voted – that’s the value of democracy. Politicians sometimes count on that apathy.

People are not like computers, thank goodness, but we are far more complicated beings and there are many reasons why negative and disruptive behaviour can lead to apathy, can’t be bothered and then worse, paralysis. Even great leaders may find that state a bridge too far.

How do you compare?

There are simple things you can do to see what environment you are fostering. A quick reality check – take a walk around your organisation, watch the behaviour and listen to the language. Is it a ‘can’t do’ (learned helplessness) or a ‘can do’ engaged atmosphere?

What to look for?

It’s really easy to see the difference if you focus and know what you’re looking for. One of the techniques used in the armed forces and security services is to look for abnormal, or unusual behaviour. They have trained themselves where to look for dangerous situations and can therefore react to those effectively and efficiently.

What if you asked your employees “what goes on here?”, what answers would you get?

Would you get these answers? “Our managers say their primary goal is transparency, but their idea of transparency is …so, here’s what’s going to happen.” or “we always are asked for ideas but we are never given a chance to even discuss them.”

There are no prizes to be won here – you’ll know you have a ‘can’t do’ or ‘won’t do’ organisation. The more that type of activity happens the more rooted it becomes – eventually you’ll freeze, stagnate, lose your best people when the opportunities arise.

So what has your trip around your business told you? Have you leaders who lead?

“Managers are people who do things right [but], Leaders are people who do the right thing”  Warren Bennis, 1989

Do your leaders

  • have the confidence to lead?
  • know how to ‘be’ and ‘do’ leadership in the real world?
  • link people with their performance goals?
  • know how to be results focused yet people driven?

…if they do you are on the way to success.

So that’s a relief – phew, you have great leaders.

Now what about the other half of the equation, you, the supply side? The demand side – how do your clients stack up?


Are they ’can do’ leaders or do they block your progress?

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