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Egos in business leadership the sacred cow that kills many businesses

Leanne Hoagland-Smith. | Provided photo~Sun-Times Media

Leanne Hoagland-Smith. | Provided photo~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: August 12, 2012 9:26PM



Business failure happens for many reasons. There is underfunding, no planning, shortage of technical skills to poor marketing activities just to name a few. Yet, maybe it is time to look at this one sacred cow that appears to be immune from question or criticism that being the egos of the executive leadership team.

As stated in last week’s column, many of the problems facing businesses are truly leadership in nature and this starts at the top of the organization. However, there still appears to be many small business owners to C Suite executives who refuse to address this sacred cow and instead continue to point their fingers are others. Of course, when you point your finger at one person, there are three fingers pointing back at you.

From my observations there appears to be five reasons why this sacred cow still lives in corporate America, be it the small company with 20 or fewer employees or the larger ones with thousands.

Reason No. 1: Ego

Admitting that what you are currently doing is not working is not easy especially when you are at the top. Egos are easily bruised when the small business owners to C Suite executives have worked so very hard to get to this point for their respective organizations.

Reason No. 2: Lack of strategic plan including misalignment between strategy, structure, processes, rewards and people

Without a plan, Capt. Wing It becomes the driving force and maybe that worked when building the business, but sustaining that same business during challenging economic times is not a viable and winning behavior. Again, because strategic planning is not taught especially for those within professional service industries such as accounting, financial planning, healthcare, legal or medical.

Reason No. 3: Control

“Nobody can do it as good as I can” says the executive leader to herself or himself. She or he may be right. However, that will not correct the organizational problems. This is not the time to be the control freak or micro-manager, but a time to learn to delegate. Delegation is embedded within effective goal setting and achievement. Again delegation is not a taught leadership skill within the K-16 educational experience.

Reason No. 4: Emotional Intelligence

In the world of 10- to 30-second sound bytes, time and technology appear to be of the essence. These influences can reflect the absence of emotional intelligence. People buy from people and people work for people. They do not buy or work for clocks or computers. Recognizing and understanding the emotions of others as well as ourselves does take time. Emotional intelligence is documented as a necessary leadership trait and can work with other solutions to improve organizational results.

Reason No. 5 – Business Ethics

This reason is more directed at those who provide the solutions than the small business owners to C Suite executives. There are far too many consulting, training and coaching firms that are willing to ignore what they know or even suspect to be true because they do not want to lose the potential contract or sale. After all, you are approached to solve the inability to increase sales and not to provide an executive leadership solution.

Just imagine if more of these firms would hold true to their business ethics and say “what is, is” how many less re-dos would happen and how much more resources the organizations would have?

If your organization is facing some repetitive challenges, there is a good chance the real problem is ineffective leadership usually at the top. Over time, this challenge has cascaded down into the rank -and-file of the business. Maybe now is the time to have a forthright conversation with yourself and your executive team and face that sacred cow before it kills your business.

P.S. Shout out to: Zel’s Roast Beef in Lake County and Mike’s Premier Grill in Valparaiso.



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