Band-Aids and EASY Buttons -Or- SOLUTIONS?

An owner of a couple of small businesses is frustrated with dwindling profits.

He blames his staff, treats them badly, moves them to different locations, stalls their vacations and refuses to listen to their feedback.

The truth is:

  • He has been an absentee owner that has happily collected profits from the businesses while choosing not to be involved in day-to-day operations.
  • He hasn’t trained his employees or empowered them to make decisions.
  • He has not been engaged with his customers and doesn’t know what they value.
  • He hasn’t been proactive about growing his businesses or even keeping up with his competitors.
  • His prices are higher than the competition and his facilities are cramped, cluttered, outdated, and equipped with poor quality equipment and tools.

In a divided world: We have more than two choices

The third option requires our brains AND our hearts

Have you ever had a small child run to you in fear?  (Of the boogeyman under the bed, the barking dog, or the crack of thunder?)

How do you respond?

Do you ignore them?  Do you dismiss them?  Do you call them boogey-phobic, dog-phobic, or noise-phobic?  Do you make fun of them?  Or do you shine a light under the bed and explain why they are safe?  Take them to meet the neighbor’s dog and see that he is friendly?  Or explain how thunder works?

Have you been a titled leader in a business and heard employees expressing concerns about fairness or potential layoffs?

How have you responded?

Do you get defensive and angry that they dare to question you?  Do you blow off their concerns?  Do you talk down to them?  Or do you hear them and respond with understanding, compassion and honesty?

communication, discussion, dialogueHave you watched divisive current events and taken a side?  And then heard from a family member, friend, coworker or neighbor that has taken the other side?

How have you been responding?

Are you ignoring them?  Unfriending them?  Labeling them?  Shouting at them?  Making fun of them?  Or are you seeking first to understand what is driving them?

Great parents, leaders and friends – listen to questions and fears without anger or labels, or a dismissive attitude.  They seek to understand, and then shine a light under the bed and address real and imagined concerns.  They are honest about real challenges and about their commitment to their people.  

The Inspiring STANDS of A Real Leader

For the business, his team and his family

Real leaders know that they can’t fight every battle.

But their values are crystal clear long before they are faced with critical decisions. So when a situation demands it they don’t hide, cower or flock…

This post honors the stands of a REAL LEADER that spent several years working overseas.

When the business struggled, this leader:

  • Offered solutions: By reminding peers and executives that they could SIGNIFICANTLY decrease expenses, and increase efficiency, effectiveness, customer retention and revenue by holding people accountable to policies that were already in place.
  • Spoke the hard truth: By pointing to the root cause of issues instead of agreeing with popular thinking that only treated symptoms.
  • Maximized the resources he had: By playing to his strengths and the strengths of his team and leveraging old assets he kept expensive and critical operations running for nearly an entire year without a budget.

When five rounds of layoffs came, this leader practiced:

Replace The Dreaded Debate with the Adventure of a “Conversation Safari”

Last fall we took an African Safari. Prior to leaving, several friends, raved about their safari experiences, claiming that it was their most epic vacation, and numero uno on a list of several destinations.

When I asked why… One friend said it was because of the animals.

Interesting. I LOVE animals, but I’ve been to the zoo and and wildlife parks. How could simply being in Africa create an epic vacation?

Strategically NOT THINKING – Is it really safer and easier?

Have you ever worked in a place that is caught in a cycle that is NOT working?

  • But instead of digging for the root cause, titled leaders wave “magic wands” that cause some people to disappear and others to appear?

Have you ever wondered if anyone recognizes that new faces are just another Band-Aid that is being used to cover a growing cancer instead of treating it?

Once upon a time, I had a conversation with someone about a problem that needed to be solved.

We’d faced this problem before.

  • The first solution had been to replace a person.
  • A few months later we were having a very similar problem with a different person.

We both agreed that the problem was not only unresolved, it had gotten worse.  And we agreed that we needed a solution.

  • But we disagreed about what that looked like.
  • I wanted to know why a second person was struggling in the same position that someone else had failed in.
  • He didn’t want to waste time flipping rocks trying to understand why, he simply wanted the new person replaced, as quickly as possible.

When problems surface, it is so tempting to rush for the magic wand.

It may appear to be faster, easier or even the “safest” way to appease the investors or the CEO.

  • However, waving magic wands that make some faces disappear while new faces appear, doesn’t solve deeper issues.
  • And titled leaders that prefer magic wands to real solutions  – won’t be around very long.

Below are two true stories:

 1.  A high-potential employee is constantly promoted within a company for more than a decade. 

When he is promoted again he can’t get the tools and support he needs and begins to struggle. He’s not a quitter and doesn’t know how to fail, so he sacrifices all of his vacation and family time and works instead.  But no matter how many hours he puts in, he is treated as if he is the problem and eventually fired.

Then another high potential/long-term employee is relocated to take the same role, in the same place, with the same leader, in the same environment.

And the cycle begins again…

What if:

  • The employees that are continually recruited for this role are not the problem?
  • The training and support needs to be improved?
  • The culture in that department is causing people to fail?
  • The titled leader in that department is the source of the problem?

*What is it costing the organization to continually lose long-term, high performing employees in this one black hole?  

2.  An owner of a couple of small businesses is frustrated with dwindling profits. 

He blames his staff, treats them badly, moves them to different locations, stalls their vacations and refuses to listen to their feedback.

What if:

  • The employees need more training and more support?
  • The declining business is caused by the owner’s lack of presence and engagement with his customers?
  • His customer are leaving because competitors have better service, pricing, equipment and facilities?

*What is is costing that business owner to continue to operate in this way?  


Please share:  

  • Have you ever worked in a culture that discourages thinking?

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