Ingrid Cliff asked:
I have worked with stacks of businesses over the years. Often I am asked to name the most important indicator of whether or not a business will succeed or fail – my answer is always – Look at the CEO. CEO’s and their personal style can make or break a business.
A good CEO sets clear direction and boundaries, provides assistance and support to the team and then gets out of the way to let them accomplish what needs to be done. They help unblock roads if needed and provide guideposts along the way – but their management style is such that they do it in a way that creates independence of action rather than dependence.
So here’s my list of the top 5 CEO management styles that most limit business success.
1. Ultimate creator
Creativity is a good thing right? Well yes and no. Creative types are great to get a new concept or project off the ground. They come up with unique ways of viewing the world and often have breakthrough thinking to old problems. The difficulty comes when the creator can’t just corral their thinking to one area. They end up constantly fiddling with things and never take anything to conclusion.
Employees get whiplash trying to keep up with all of the changes of direction, end up getting frustrated and either leave physically or mentally from the job. Often Ultimate Creators are dreadful at systems – even if they do have a system they are guaranteed not to follow it.
If this is you, then you need to hire people with structure around you. You need to stay within your flow of creating and outsource or hire people to do the nuts and bolts of the business.
2. Detail Nazi
Some CEOs are detail Nazi’s – constantly crossing t’s and dotting i’s. One manager I was aware of literally would spend hours correcting punctuation of briefs and proposal of his employees – and would totally miss the point of what was being proposed.
Employees spend more time chasing micro details than thinking strategically which means the business misses potential opportunities.
If this is you, then you need to work out why you are focusing on micro details. Are you carrying fear about being out of control? Are you a perfectionist in your personal life as well? What are the key metrics you really do need to focus on? If you don’t know then get someone help you work out your metrics. Keep your detail focus on what really matters and let the rest slide.
3. Hot and Cold Boss
Hot and Cold bosses are those who some days can be exceptional – they are focussed, strategic, engaging leaders (on some days of the week) and then all of a sudden something changes. It could be the wind direction, or the lunch they ate – but all of a sudden they are scattered, absent and withdrawn. Employees can’t get an answer from them to save their life. Hot and Cold Bosses abuse employees for not taking the initiative and then abuse them more if they do.
Employees spend most of the day trying to work out which way the wind is blowing. When the boss is on track they quickly race in and try and get everything through as they don’t know when they will get the next opportunity (which leads to the boss being overwhelmed with work, dropping the bundle, getting angry etc).
If this is you – try and work out what is putting you in the grip of your inner 2 year old. The times when are off track means you are operating from a space of stress. What can you do to better manage your stress (and the impact your stress is having on your employees and your business)?
4. Know it all
The know-it-all boss is often closely related to the Detail Nazi and is someone who has every answer to every problem (or thinks they should have). They must be involved in every decision and have the final word on everything. They often leave their own work undone as they are too busy chasing your stuff.
Employees never know the edge of their boundaries – so end up always passing everything up the line. The boss then gets overloaded and can’t work out why their employees don’t take initiative.
If this is you, then you can’t just stop being in the middle of everything and expect your business to survive. You have created a real problem where your employees now no longer know HOW to take initiative.
You need to start setting clear boundaries and teach your employees once again how to deal with problems by themselves without involving you. You also need to share the content in your head – at the moment you are the only person who has all of the answers because you didn’t allow your team access to the answers.
5. The warm fuzzy
The warm fuzzy manager wants everyone to like them. They don’t set rules and want the group to make all the decisions. They procrastinate on making an answer and if someone complains, they will change the decision. They will avoid conflict at all costs – trying to get someone else to fix the problem for them or smile to the employees face and then moan about the employee behind their back.
Employees may feel happy to be working with you, but have no clear idea about what is important or a priority so in the absence of information make up their own priorities. This means lots of conflicting priorities, simmering conflict and massive undiscussables in the workplace.
If this is you, then you need to work out if you are running your business to be liked or to make money. They are not mutually exclusive – but sometimes decisions you will need to take will not make you popular with your employees. That is a fact of life.
Some managers exhibit a few of these traits combined, and if this is you then you need to look at the dominant trait and start with resolving that one first.
If your business is not as successful as it could be – maybe it is time to look deeply into a mirror and ask yourself “How am I holding back my business?”