CSR is No Indulgence

I find it disturbing when business leaders choose to use CSR to compensate for ethically questionable business.

Continue reading

leader and decision

Benevolent Dictatorship

Understanding the rationale for change alone when accountability is lacking is never enough. As leader, you will find yourself having to do the work of your staff in their stead.

By accountability, I mean a leader ensures there are rewards for the right behaviors and good results, and penalties if there are not.

Accountability is never a staff issue. It is always one of leadership. A CEO I know is changing his company’s business model from selling products the company manufactures through distributors to selling directly to customers. It is a good idea that makes sense, and is highly likely to succeed. The new model is not just one of disintermediation. The company will also offer high-value services along with the products, flexible and rapid customization capability, and unparalleled, proprietary, competitive technology.

Despite the CEO’s efforts to reason, persuade, and convince his leadership team of the merits of the new strategy, they remain skeptical. They listen. They critique. They catastrophize. They express agreement in principle begrudgingly, but then drag their feet in action citing all sorts of excuses as to why they cannot change the way they do business.

The CEO tries to reason with his leadership team members again. The cycle of tepid agreement, inaction, and excuses repeats. No progress is made. Yet there are no consequences.

The decisions that your staff might make if they were CEO are not necessarily the same ones you make now, and that is just fine. There is nothing wrong with considering the perspectives of your staff, but you decide the direction of the business. It is reasonable to expect your staff to support your decisions, even when they might disagree. When they are CEO, they can decide.

Accountability is no ersatz for support. You should help with understanding the rationale for any change. You should provide education and other support when needed. You should provide additional resources, whether money, time, additional staff, equipment, or something else as appropriate. You should clarify ambiguity in authority and responsibility when these are ambiguous. You should resolve internal processes in conflict.

Yet even the best support is rarely enough to effect change in behavior. Only you can hold your staff to account. Without accountability, all bets are off.

Only you can hold your staff to account. Without accountability, all bets are off. Click To Tweet
Empathy Trumps Projection

Empathy Trumps Projection

Projection and empathy are not the same thing, but they are often confused. Empathy is the ability to understand how someone is thinking, whereas projection is presuming a person thinks like you. Be careful not to project when it is empathy that you intend. Continue reading

Increase Your Attrition

Many companies are struggling to find the qualified people they need, so they resort to retaining the people they have whether qualified or not. They fight to eliminate or at least reduce rates of attrition when it is increased attrition that can do the business the most good. Retention of the best is all that matters.

Recently, the head of a large business unit of a major international company here in Japan told me that the company’s rate of attrition is of no particular concern to him, even though it is higher than industry average.

Continue reading

When Risk Aversion Personal

When Risk Aversion is Personal

There is nothing wrong with risk aversion.

It is only aversion to reasonable business risk that is a problem. When a business leader complains of excessive risk aversion in his staff, the underlying concerns are frequently personal. Continue reading

Retain Just the Best

You want to retain just the best in your organization.

Why?

Retention, per se, is no business objective. It is retaining the best that counts, even in the tightest of labor markets.
Continue reading

monster under bed

Monsters Under the Bed

Tentativeness is rarely out of fear of consequences, but rather fear of unknown consequences, and there is a distinction.

Tentativeness is rarely out of fear of consequences, but rather fear of unknown consequences. Click To Tweet

A Japanese government ministry official in charge of supporting small to medium size businesses said a recent event in Tokyo said that a shocking number of profitable privately-owned small to medium sized companies with perfectly viable businesses are simply closing as their aging CEOs are unable to find a reasonable successor. The children of the owners who might take over the family business frequently lack either appetite or the aptitude to do so, and few if any possible buyers for the business ever materialize. Rates of entrepreneurship in Japan in general are about half of other OECD countries.

Continue reading

mask

Fear Misplaced

Risk and risk perception are rarely equivalent, but if you lead an organization, yours must be one and the same.

I write this as worldwide cases of coronavirus surpass 10,000, most of which are in China, and are certain to rise. While a frightening pathogen to be sure, the fears that coronavirus has provoked in people in other countries are beyond rational, as are the changes in their behavior.

Continue reading