As it appeared in the Daily Nation on January 28th 2020
Dr. Lucy Kiruthu
The leadership responsibility in business is massive. Success and failure in most businesses can be attributed to leaders in equal measure. On one hand, businesses have succeeded because of decisions that their leaders have made. On the other hand, businesses have found themselves in deep pits because of blunders linked to leaders. Both of these situations remain a source of valuable lessons for all business leaders. Smart business leaders need to learn from the experiences of others and those of their own. Having interacted with different businesses, there are many blunders that leaders are making. These range from financial misappropriation to everyday mismanagement. Here are three simple but tragic blunders that I have often witnessed among many leaders especially those leading small businesses.
Lack of a Clear Vision
Leaders are expected to guide and shepherd others towards the future. It becomes difficult to effectively lead without a clear vision for a business. In particular, leaders who cannot clearly articulate where their businesses are headed lack the ability to inspire their teams. Such leaders end up stagnating their organizations or meandering without making any steps forward. Smart leaders develop a shared vision. With a clear and shared vision, such leaders are able to steer their businesses to greater heights.
Failure to Invest in People
I often point out that our people make the difference in our businesses. As such, they should be considered as the most valuable asset. Unfortunately, most small businesses leaders are below average on matters people. They fail to recruit right, do not train, fail to manage performance and do not recognize those that deserve recognition. As a result, most small businesses have disengaged and unhappy employees. Most such employees are only serving the business for the pay. Leaders are expected to do what is right. As a leader, investing in your staff is the right thing to do. This means having your team’s interest at heart, treating them well and supporting them so that they can support the business achieve its goals.
Every minute, leaders are communicating. They communicate by not only what they say but also what they do and what they fail to do. Effective communication is at the heart of leading others and is crucial for business success. Unfortunately, in most businesses there is poor communication both internally and with external stakeholders. One-way communication, getting personal, lack of feedback, withholding information, aggression, and negativity are all signs of poor communication. Poor communications results to lack of trust and can lead to low morale, reduced productivity and an unhealthy culture. Smart leader recognize the power of effective communication. They focus on effective communication across the entire business as a pathway to positively influencing others.
These blunders are common among both experienced and inexperienced small business leaders. As business leaders, correcting such blunders means a better business. When business leaders fail to correct such blunders, it can be catastrophic for the business. As a business leader, what action will you take to define a clear vision for your business, to invest in people and communicate better?
Dr. Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer. Connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy