The core premise of my Operating Model (SSPP) is that business leaders will always measure the validity of their strategy and actions against the reality of what is going on in the marketplace versus what is happening within their own businesses. Working with what is real in the marketplace accelerates your desired results but also captures the hearts and minds of your people by allowing them to accomplish their goals. Getting things done is a bigger motivator than any compensation plan or benefit plan and it is the one thing you can affect the most as a business leader. So if dealing with reality is so powerful, why do so many leaders lose sight of what is real for their business and their people? And how can leaders give themselves a reality check?
Now, most of my strongest leaders are asking themselves what the hell I was smoking when I wrote this blog. Truth be told, they have an issue dealing with this reality conversation because over the years, they have effectively created their own reality and thus paved the way to their own accomplishments. This ‘history’ of achievement has created a working model for most of my clients and has allowed them to see through the challenges threatening their plans and to fruitfully navigate their way to success.
Unfortunately this success, over the years, becomes a blind spot to new challenges that face the business. Most of the times these new, real facts get discounted as resistance by the business leader. So the irony is that the more successful you were in the past, the more you know you can create it in the future and therefore bypass the road signs screaming ‘Caution: Your Road to Success is Under Construction’. The good news is that in most situations these new, real facts that threaten to derail your plans to success are not hidden from sight. In fact, some, if not most of your people are aware of them and their consequences. So why doesn’t this information make it to your desk? Two reasons:
1) People cannot argue with your past accomplishments and your ability to drive results so they make the assumption that you already know and 2) They are intimidated by you and those very same accomplishments and thus are unable to challenge your thought processes or decisions. This malady is readily known as the King has No Clothes. (Stay with me, I’m still not smoking anything other than a fine cigar.) In plain English, this is where you gleefully walk the halls of your offices secure in the belief that you have addressed the issues at hand and that you are well on the way to meeting your goals. Reality check! You are really naked of the facts that face the business.
So how do you keep yourself from being the Naked King?
1) Ask questions. Lots of them. Dig for new information and then ask for a reality check from your team to make sure all information has been brought to the table.
2) Remember that a key strength for a good leader is humility and that just because you were right the last ten times, does not mean you’re right this time. Allow others to challenge your thought process.
3) Let your intelligence win over your ego. Beware of discounting or dismissing information because of the messenger or because you quickly assume any disagreement is resistance to change. Your prior accomplishments have created a strong belief system that reflects on how success is achieved, what it looks like, how it feels. Remember to always hold those beliefs up against the facts of the day.
So, in the end, leaving yourself and your business naked to the realities of the marketplace not only puts your personal success at risk but also the success of your business.
My goal for this blog has always been two-fold. First, I have the opportunity to share my insights and years of experience with you, the reader. And second, I myself get to hear your thoughts, opinions, experiences, etc. To make this blog a mutually beneficial experience, I would ask that you take the time to post your comments, your questions and your own war stories from your years in the business. Let’s use this blog to generate dialogue on the issues we’ve all faced in our businesses and work together to come to some great solutions.