I have seen some fantastic academic work in recent years on leadership – Jim Collins, Stephen Covey and all the other usual names. A plethora of tools, techniques and matrices aimed at helping the ambitious entrepreneur become a better leader. I am guilty of being one of the many individuals to come up with new thinking on how to excel at leading others!
The reality is, it’s so damn difficult pulling everyone in the same direction, getting people to buy into your vision, aligning individual skills with the needs of the business, expecting everyone to be as passionate as the founder – just accept it, no one is ever going to be as passionate as the founder of a business. One thing for sure is that as a company grows, a leader/leaders must develop a rulebook – it should be a concise set of statements that defines – how we do things around here! If an employee does not like the rules – it does not make them a bad person, it just means they don’t belong to the community. Modern management science talks about values and behaviours in my own world I call this a rulebook – golf clubs have them, religious societies have them…and many more. Organisations that have been around for hundreds of years have a rulebook of some description! I can almost hear readers cringing at this phrase.
As companies grow – a rulebook is needed to define what is and what is not acceptable. As a company heads towards 7, 20 and 50 employees the people dynamics change and a “way of doing things” needs to be established – if not you end up with a tribe and not a team. For me this is one of biggest challenges leaders of growing businesses face – embedding an ethos/philosophy of what is and what is not acceptable. Managing people, emotions, needs, desires and aspirations, then connecting them with the purpose of a business is so difficult.
Try putting together a rulebook then sharing this with senior managers and staff. Institutionalisation (you may wish to use other words) is a necessary part of creating a long tem sustainable business – a challenge for any leader! Don’t forget you must live by the rule book yourself, if not why should colleagues and staff?
See our company values here >>>
A bit of a deviation from what I usually talk about – my respect and passion for SME’s and entrepreneurship. I got a call this afternoon an elderly lady in a panic who had just returned from a very enjoyable day out with her friends in Manchester. It was my Mum – someone had stolen her purse with £80 in cash, a picture of my late Dad, her diary and other bits and bobs important to her. They then proceeded to take an additional £200 from her account.
What sort of person could do this? How can they live with themselves? What did their parents teach them? Where is their life heading? Do they have respect? How on earth could anyone do this to an old lady?
These people really do need help….
We hear so much about how important it is to create the right culture within an organisation. I prefer to refer to it as the organisational spirit. A bit like the wind you can feel it but you can’t see it – there is however, no doubt, that it’s there! I believe that the spirit of any organisation can either attract or repel – customers, good staff, suppliers, partners and other stakeholders. It is so obvious when you walk into a company that has great spirit – its fun, a great place to be and the environment is conducive to innovation, progression and success.
Creating the right spirit is down to the leader and founders. It is not easy to achieve, in fact in really hard, to create a great spirit – but when you get it right, it helps your organisation to progress – at the coalface selling is made far easier. Customers love to buy from organisations they like or admire. The spirit is created through:
1. Embedding values that everyone buys into
2. Having a cause and a purpose that brings value to the customers and stakeholders being served
3. An environment that encourages ongoing learning and personal development
4. Applying innovation across all functions and processes
5. Allowing everyone to be heard and respecting everyone’s views
6.Positive talk and outlook
7.Having a laugh – dont take life too seriously – fun is so important
Get the spirit right and you just attract positive stuff – when staff are happy they treat and look after customers in the right way. This has a profound impact on business performance and growth.
Working out what makes “you” or your company tick in terms of accepted values and behaviours can take ages. I know for a fact that many management teams agonise for weeks and months, just trying to define the organisational spirit – the invisible forces that collective add up to culture. This is what determines the atmosphere and environment that we work in – do we love getting out of bed or is it a chore.
If you are the leader of your organisation you often have the privilege of setting the values because they are an extension of who you are as a human being – but at the end of the day organisational effectiveness is achieved when everyone is aligned to the same core thinking as to what is and what is not acceptable.
If you want to fast track the definition of your personal or organisational values then there is a simple exercise you can conduct – try this, either individually or with your team. Ask the simple question:
What behaviours really get on my nerves? List….
people who avoid returning calls, arrogance, people who talk down at me, people who don’t fill up the kettle, leaving dirty cups in the sink, individuals who humiliate others in meetings, not being asked for a brew, not keeping in touch…..keep the list going
When you/your team have exhausted the list start to group common themes. You have now started to define those things you don’t want to see in the business or with those you deal with – flip them to define your values in other words ……greed become giving, arrogance becomes humility, inertia becomes momentum.
Pretty simple but it really does work!