20/09/10

By Andrew Lester, Managing Partner, Carr Michael Consulting

There are two further leadership behaviours which regularly constrain businesses from making the progress that they should and could achieve.

The first is that too often the people deciding on the solution have no accountability for implementation or delivery of the commercial success. Leaders regularly choose a team of experts from across the business to develop new initiatives and growth opportunities. These experts work up solutions that all too often fit the idealised view of how the company operates rather than how it actually operates, based on the core understanding that they will not be responsible for success or failure come judgement day. Very rarely, and particularly in the increasingly project focused business world, is the team that comes up with the solution expected to also launch it, bed it in and only then hand it over to the mainstream.

Too often Carr-Michael sees businesses in which solutions are “thrown over the wall” that exists between the solution designers and those charged with implementing it. It leads to NIH — not invented here — syndrome, which sees those who are accountable for implementation picking fault with the solution either in a genuine attempt to improve it or as a means of establishing early excuses for failure.

So why do we see this (bad) leadership behaviour so often? After all we see enough examples of the poor results it produces to do something about it. The reason is that leaders are too often also fixated by short term results. They want new initiatives but they don’t do the leg work to set an innovative culture for the company that can produce a constant stream of new initiatives that fit the company strategy.

The other (bad) leadership behaviour is accepting endless preparation (around a new initiative) rather than focused, targeted and relevant action. Accepting endless preparation is a sign of poor leadership. Leadership that is in effect being pushed around by subordinates who fundamentally do not understand how to tackle the opportunity, disagree with it, or do not have the time and resources available to do it, but who also don’t want to tell the boss that it can’t be done. Endless preparation is insidious; it sets illusions of worthwhile work whilst delivering very little.

So why do we see this (bad) leadership behaviour so often? The answer often lies in poor prioritisation by leaders of what the business should be working on, a lack of clarity on what they are actually asking for and expecting to see as a result, and a weakness in confronting the procrastination of others. This may sound harsh, but leaders have to first recognise their own short comings and then fix them to drive progress.

Please feel free to comment by contacting me: andrewlester@carr-michael.com. Andrew Lester is Managing Partner of Carr-Michael Consulting, specialists in growth management and business performance improvement.

Join us on