The case for ‘new world leaders’ in business is growing all of the time. Director Doreen Yarnold outlines what traits those people have and what makes them different from those who maintain an ‘old world’ attitude.
Leading Results have conducted much research into what makes businesses both successful and unsuccessful.
In 2018, we compiled this research into an easily digestible infographic and since then, our research has continued.
Again and again, we find that the leader of a business has a significant impact on how that business performs. By leader of a business, we mean the person who leads and manages a business unit in an organisation where there are multiples of business units.
For example, the general managers who run pubs and eateries, the dealer principals who run car dealerships, the store managers who run big stores, the factory managers who manage manufacturing operations and so on. No matter what the cultural influences of the wider organisation, these people create their own sub culture which permeates the very fabric of the business they manage.
Our research has taken us to many struggling businesses that have been struggling usually on several fronts. Financial issues, customer retention and loyalty, and staff turnover were the three main areas of underperformance.
Our approach to the task starts with an in-depth, evidence-based interview with the leader of the business. It is usually here that any gaps in knowledge, skills or qualities come to light, as they are rarely able to provide evidence of the way they say they operate. This exposes a leader who is struggling under the weight of poor business performance and without the rounded commercial acumen to navigate their way out of it.
Culturally these are very difficult and negative businesses to operate in. Their people are more cautious about speaking to and being around ‘outsiders’, seeming to fear that they might say the wrong thing.
Occasionally, a disgruntled staff member will pop out of the woodwork to tell us exactly how it is, either because they are leaving the business, or have given up caring whether the boss finds out or not. These leaders share a broad set of characteristics and are known as…
- These leaders don’t seem to have a minute to spare and spend their time either fire-fighting or creating the fires that others have to put out
- They don’t seem to understand the importance of earning the respect and trust of their people, often believing these things can be commanded simply because they are the boss
- Staff development is seen as an unnecessary cost rather than an investment in the most important asset the business has
- Their own self development is almost non-existent with a healthy disregard for any time spent out of the business on anything that smacks of training
- The best and most talented people have left the business or are actively looking
- There is a perpetual shortage of staff due to people leaving, resulting in those left behind being put under considerable pressure to cope with the daily demands of the business
- Customers feel the strain in atmosphere and poor service and say so in their surveys. Or they don’t – and end up voting with their feet.
Our research also identified that a number of these leaders have potential to be so much better than they are, but are forced to take their lead from a leader further up the chain of command who is stifling their development and tightly controlling the framework around which they are allowed to run their business.
New World leaders
Conversely, in successful businesses, the sub culture that the leader creates aligns well with that of the organisation, with a healthy nod to the vision and values it aspires to achieve. These are the leaders we categorise as New World leaders:
- They ‘get’ what it takes to run a successful business, to manage tasks, and lead their people
- They understand the importance of creating a culture where their people and teams can do their best work
- They inspire, motivate, give praise, communicate, are commercially savvy, understand the numbers and not afraid to have difficult but constructive conversations when required
- They are not scared to take risks, they recognise the importance of allowing people to make mistakes as they progress towards competence and they are teachers and role models for the teams they lead
- They look for, nurture and develop those wonderful human qualities in people that eventually turn into leadership qualities
- They see a key part of their role as creating other leaders
- They get results through what they do, and more critically how they do it.
They are special and sadly uncommon.
We also identified businesses that were struggling but had great leaders. In all cases there were solid reasons for this, not related to the capability and competence of the leader. Over and above these few exceptions, there is an obvious correlation between business results and the capability of the business leader, particularly if the underperformance is sustained over time.
Is your business struggling to achieve positive results?
Maybe it is time to review the leadership capability of those running the business?
Our research is not an academic piece and will not be seen in the annals of scientific literature. But it is robust and has provided anecdotal evidence and correlation of the link between good leaders and good results in business.
For more information about our research and to find out more details on how Leading Results could help your business leaders, please contact: Doreen Yarnold at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (07903) 810808.
Read more: How to lead teams during difficult times