Should Leaders Take Business Personally?

We have all learned that leadership has lost the edge it once had because leaders have been required to be good managers, not great leaders.  I have witnessed the weakening of leadership first hand.  Leaders are scared to make real decisions and don’t trust themselves enough to take calculated risks during times of adversity.  They spend too much time saving their jobs, being politically correct.    As one Fortune 500 executive told me, ‘I purposely never share all of my secrets and intentions; I enjoy making others wonder about what I am thinking.  This creates curiosity and heightens my importance, power and leverage in the department I lead.’  What a waste of time.  And when I asked him when the last time was that the organization invested in his leadership, he responded ‘over 5 years.’  Glenn Llopis, Contributor to Forbes

Imagine you are young, full of life and ideas. Your company faces competition andscared leadership and employee disengagement you have all kinds of ideas to save money or maybe even a new product or service idea. But, wait a minute. You work for the “leader” who is quoted above. How do you get through to him/her to get the resources or permission you need?  Hopefully, the financials will push the company towards a change management strategy. Or, if that doesn’t happen soon enough, you will leave or become one of the 55% disengaged employees out there.

I know easy to say. But, disengagement is high at many companies. Fear has set in and many “leaders” want to protect themselves and their realm. They are resisting change because that means they have to take a risk and possibly fail. Or, maybe their company’s culture doesn’t allow for mistakes which are inevitable with change and risk. It also could be that they really don’t know what’s important to the growth of the company. I mean, the revenue is still coming in so what’s the beef?

Then, there are the leaders who believe business IS personal. Margaret Heffernen of BNET did a two-year study of women entrepreneurs who risked their savings, 401k’s and had no “Plan b”. She said they along with their fellow male entrepreneurs had to succeed because they believed in their companies and had rejected corporate cultures they had known. In other words, she says success or failure was very personal:

In the best entrepreneurs – male and female – this is always true. And it is true not just because they’re people of courage and imagination but because they recognize that every company has the capacity to make the world better, or worse. And they take this personally.

So, is it time for all of us, not just leaders, to start taking business personally?

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