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Shadow problems continue to plague small businesses

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

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

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Updated: December 23, 2012 8:28AM



Many small businesses suffer from a malady of what the owners to the C Suite executives to even the frontline workers view as problems. Yet upon closer inspection and then taking an assessment even an informal one can begin to separate the shadow problems (symptoms) from the real problems.

Years ago I had the opportunity to read “Fail-Safe Leadership.” Two of my colleagues, Linda Martin and Dr. David G. Mutchler, wrote it to provide, as they said, “straight talk about correcting the leadership challenges” in organizations.

Over the ensuing years I continue to give this book to my clients, colleagues and friends because the authors had quickly and succinctly captured why performance excellence still eludes so many small businesses.

Within this book are several key chapters including:

• “A Round World Makes for Better Sailing”

• “United We Stand, Divided We Fall”

• “The Right Fuel for Your Engine”

However, the second chapter, “A Quick Temperature Check,” is where many of my clients have had their “Ah-ha” moments. Within this chapter, a checklist or a self assessment is provided through some of these bullet point questions:

• Does your organization have excessive meetings?

• Is there a preponderance of consensus driven decision making or what some may call cover your behind mentality?

• Is there a lack of personal accountability?

• Are there communication problems?

• Is there difficulty in terminating poor performing employees?

• Is there a lack of coordinated efforts, misalignment or duplication of work?

• Are personality conflicts or power struggles happening?

• Is lack of motivation present?

• Are the results unacceptable?

• Are sales targets continually being missed?

• Are there ongoing issues with operations such as customer service, shipping to quality?

• Is high employee or staff turnover present?

• Are there time management problems?

• Is there a fear of making a decision?

The authors contend that if you answered yes to any of these questions, it suggests there may be a hidden leadership problem and all those other problems are truly false or shadow problems.

So my gift to you is to use this list as a springboard to help your organization make 2013 even better than 2012. Those individuals and organizations who apply knowledge, learn from their mistakes, make those course corrections will always out-perform those organization who just accumulate knowledge and take no action.

Finally, as today is Christmas Eve, please allow me to wish to you and yours the blessings of the season.

P.S. Shout Out: Up for Grabs in Hammond continues to provide good food and service. In Valparaiso, an established restaurant, Martini’s offers lunch and dinner.



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