Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall… You’ve all heard the saying from the Walt Disney film, Snow White where the wicked witch seeks affirmation that she is the most beautiful of them all!

I have long held the view that every business reflects those at the top! If the business isn’t looking beautiful, then the chances are it is just reflecting you, the business owner! As business owners, how often do we look in the mirror at ourselves?

However much we feel the issue rests with someone else, there is likely to be a behavioural factor that has grown out of from the owners or senior teams own actions.

By adopting self-reflection, understanding and placing ourselves in the other persons shoes, we can better understand how we influence the culture and behaviours of others. Remember, we often the traits in others that reflect our own!

Some examples of the different manners that can be seen across business leaders are:

  1. ­­­­The seagull! Seagull metaphor - "Seagull managers fly in, make a lot of noise, dump on everyone, then fly out leaving a mess in their wake."
  2. The Carer! A desire to do good by everyone. Whilst this is admiral, without a structure and clear parameters, The Carer leader can struggle in a growing business as a sense of unfairness and lack of balance can be interpreted by others.  
  3. The Committee Member! The desire to be inclusive can lead to decisions being delegated and the unintended consequence of control transferring away from the owner.
  4. The Accuser! Culture of blame. The owner blames others for not doing their job right and doesn’t see it is their actions that are preventing others doing a good job.
  5. The Nurse! The leader who believes only themselves capable of running things. Others cannot own situations, make decisions and end up looking at the owner for all answers resulting in a culture of dependency
  6. The Collector -  The focus by the owner of collecting the riches of their business can lead to a culture of greed within a company and the rationale behind all decision making

Over the year, I have heard business owners seek to blame all kinds of situations on others absolving themselves from any blame

For example

  • We had a bad debt last year. Nothing we could do about it, the customer went bust!
  • Employing people is a nightmare, costly and unlikely to work!
  • I’m held over the barrel by a sole supplier. Nothing I can do!
  • We had our server hacked a few months ago, nothing we could have done about it!
  • We had a visit from customs & excise who fined us for not sharing certain information. How were we supposed to know they wanted that information? No one told us.
  • Bloody customers, always screwing us for every penny they can and then they don’t pay us for 4 months!

I’ve picked on a small number of issues that I have heard expressed by business owners. However, getting under the surface of the point in question, I would say that when every problem is driven down to a deeper understanding, the answer rests with the culture and or the values of the business. So, who is responsible for leading the culture of a business?

No one said it is easy running a business! But look in the mirror and ask yourself… could what you’re looking at reflect you?

Points to keep in mind…

  1. Your company is a direct reflection of you
  2. Each action and the language you use, is like a drop of water in a glass of wine
  3. Makes sure your culture is owned by you and pushed top down NOT bottom up?
  4. If you have clearly documented values in your business, do you know it of by heart?  DO you live by it, if not why should others?