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Of course it is your company, but
June 8, 2015 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments
As a leadership coach, the best way to gain insight into how a company is run is to talk to employees. They willingly share the good, the bad, and the ugly about the culture of the company, its structure and its leader. Because the purpose of venting is to clear the air, I always get an earful of all the stuff that owners do that drives their employees crazy. Business owners are entrepreneurs that believe enough in their vision to put everything on the line to make it a reality. Owners are passionate. Owners can be intense. Owners are often stressed. And when under stress, some owners play the “it’s my company” card to get their way.
In all the leadership books ever written, you will not find any reference that states, “If you want to get your way and win an argument with an employee, simply say, ‘It’s my company.’” Personally, I can’t remember ever using the statement, “It’s my company,” to get my way, to win a debate with an employee, or to simply shut down an argument over something I didn’t agree with.
Here are some No-Compromise Leadership thoughts on why playing the “It’s my company” card has nothing to do with leadership:
- Vive la difference: There is much to learn by allowing yourself to explore and understand differing points of view that challenge your ideas, conclusions and beliefs. Heck, maybe … just maybe … your idea, conclusion or belief is not the best solution. And maybe … just maybe … you are wrong.
- Damn … you nuked it: So you don’t like hearing what you’re hearing, so you instantly go to DEFCON 1, launch your nuclear weapons, and instantly reduce the poor soul standing before you to radioactive ashes. You just nuked a loyal, caring, intelligent employee who was trying to communicate his or her thoughts and ideas for the betterment of YOUR company. Damn … good thing you don’t have real nukes to play with. You may not agree with what you’re hearing, but step back and at least let them express their idea … who knows, it may be a good one!
- Gotta clean up the mess: You played the “It’s my company” card and set off a nuke in your company to get your way. Leadership isn’t about pulling rank to crush those you lead. If you have ever been on the receiving end of “It’s my company,” you would understand the feelings of being instantly and abruptly crushed. The negativity lingers long after your crushing win … and now you’re left doing damage control to try to salvage what you’ve wrecked.
- Try leading indifference: When employees say, “It’s his company and if that’s the way he wants it … that’s the way I’ll do it,” you can feel how the passion and caring has been sucked out of them. The last thing any leader wants is to have people doing work because they were broken down to just doing it “your way.” Leaders want people to engage in work because they want to do that work … because they are passionate about doing that work … because they believe in that work. Whenever a leader plays the “It’s my company” card, he or she has the privilege of leading a team of lifeless zombies.
Too often, we are hired by owners to fix their companies, that expect us to come in and fix their employees. What we quickly discover is the issues that are frustrating the owner, and therefore holding back the company, are the results of the owner’s approach to leadership.
For owners, the fastest way to grow the company of their dreams is to create a culture that engages employees in the decision-making process in their area of responsibility. The more employees are coached to think, act and make decisions like an owner … the faster the company can move, grow and become more sustainable. The company also becomes less dependent on the owner to make decisions, thus freeing the owner to focus downrange on new growth opportunities. That’s when being an owner … and being leader … really becomes exciting and fun.
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