Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Making leadership about being genuine

Posted in startups, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on October 26, 2014

I identified this posting in its title as being about genuineness and that is probably as good a term as any, for what I would write about here. But I could just as easily and accurately have selected a title that would call for a business leader or owner to focus on excellence and on the business and its needs, and on its customers and its employees – I could just as easily have focused on the need to look outwards and on the need for presenting yourself as doing so and on valuing those around you, rather than focusing on your own needs and on your own ego. This posting, however phrased in its title, is all about making a commitment and living it, and about being clear and direct in how you express that and on how you follow through on it.

I have seen, and I add worked with business owners and leaders who take too much of a “do as I say, not as I do” approach. As an owner certainly, and as a day to day management leader you hold levels and types of responsibility for this, your business enterprise as a whole that others do not. The people who report to you, either directly and with you immediately supervising them or indirectly with others managing them, need to be able to take the initiative on wide ranges of issues and certainly in their immediate here-and-now work scheduling and performance and in completing their assigned tasks. But if you lead, and either as a business owner or as a senior manager who reports to an owner, you have to make final decisions, and both for overall operational matters, and for ongoing strategy as well.

• Be genuine in all that you do; never take that “do as I say, not as I do” approach as it is poisonous.
• Set high standards for work performance, with a goal of achieving and maintaining business excellence, and with an orientation there in meeting customer needs and wants better than any competitor. And walk the talk of that by doing the best you can as any employee and better wherever possible. Set high standards in this for yourself too, and even higher standards than you might for those who report to you because you are the one making those key finalizing decisions.
• Be genuine by demanding the same type of best from yourself as you would from anyone who works with you, and one incremental step more as well. And be transparently consistent in your follow-through on this ongoing commitment to excellence, and both in what you expect from others and in what you demand from yourself.

I write this posting as a short one and certainly for its scope of topic, but at the same time I write this as one of my more important postings, and certainly for new and first time entrepreneurs and startup founders who have essentially always worked for others before taking off on their own to start their own businesses. And I come back to the issues of ego with that, and I add the word entitlement to this narrative too. When you start a new business you take on a whole new world of responsibility and both to yourself and to your dream that you seek to realize as a new business, and to others – everyone else who buys into and seeks to support this, your business venture dream. That definitely includes anyone who might invest in your new venture –family and friends and anyone else who puts in time and effort, who offers financial backing or both. This definitely includes anyone who joins in your effort with contributions of their time and effort as members of an emerging business team – and particularly as you start out and any compensation that they receive is likely to be in promissory note form, and as promise of compensation later, when and as this new venture succeeds.

• If you follow double standards and do not do what you say you will,
• If you follow double standards and do not do yourself what you expect and even demand from others who have agreed to buy into your dream,
• You are cheating yourself and all of these involved and committed others, by increasing the odds that your venture will not succeed and by increasing the likelihood that neither you nor they will ever even recoup investments made, let along gain any profit from this venture.

I write this thinking back to my own experiences working with business founders. And I write this thinking back to working with new and less experienced managers and leaders and at a variety of levels in more established businesses. Some of the people I have most specifically in mind here as I write this have had fairly senior level positions on tables of organization, and have found themselves there primarily because they got in early and were simply advanced as the headcount grew and the table of organization and its levels of authority expanded to match. And when a manager who is not doing their job effectively from not being genuine and transparently so, is advanced with this tide of expansion and simply because of overall business growth, this means their own managers and supervisors have not been paying attention. But more importantly for purposes of this posting it means that they themselves, personally have been learning the wrong lessons as they advance in title and pay, and even while very consistently doing the wrong things and in the wrong ways.

As a slight digression here, I cite my posting: A Critique of the Peter Principle – career as a series of growth and transition phases. Think of this portion at least of this posting as offering another route to finding yourself in a position at work where your chances of failure, and I add avoidable failure, exceed your chances of success. And in this case, and certainly as work performance plays out day by, that is largely self-inflicted. So I finish this posting where I started, and by reconsidering how I might have labeled this posting. I have in fact been writing about being genuine and about the overriding, compelling need for that if you and your work endeavors are to succeed and certainly long-term. I have also been writing about being true to yourself, or at least to the best within you. Excellence in the workplace, like excellence in life in general means actively seeking to live up to the best within you, and it means doing so in ways that help others to find and bring forth the best in themselves too. Anything less from you means that much less from those around you and particularly when you are at work and at your business and you are setting the example.

I am going to finish this posting here, simply noting that I will continue to write about management and leadership, and about followership too and responding more effectively to both the good and the bad of your workplace context. And as part of that final thought, I add that excellence starts with you, whatever your title or position at work and regardless of who you do or do not report to or work with as peers. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and also at Page 1 and Page 2 of that directory. And also see Startups and Early Stage Businesses.

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