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A Paradox of Leadership

Recently, I was involved in a meeting of several successful business owners. After partaking in our normal idle chatter, our discussion quickly turned to driving results. There were three individuals who spawned my interest. While listening to them, it was clear that the constant theme was “how to drive growth through external marketing and sales campaigns.”
Although I was listening passionately, I found myself remembering a story I had heard earlier in my career. It was about a man who held, and later lit, an M80 firework in his hand. His grip was tight on the M80. Holding too tight onto the M80 and lighting it, only proved one thing – when an M80 blows up, it causes severe damage (in this case, loss of a hand.) But this is not where the story ends, there was another mad who simply placed an M80 onto the palm of his hand, did not grip the M80 at all. As this firework exploded, the individual suffered NO damage to his hand. What irony! (BTW – M80s are illegal in the U.S, so they can only be purchased on the Black Market.) As I quickly joined back in the conversation, I realized that a paradox was occurring. Each business owner was truly focused on the wrong things! The owners were challenged to figure out why these campaigns were not working. The dialogue continued until it became apparent to us all, we were stifling our company’s growth because we were focused on the external growth – gaining new customers, not on better servicing our current customers.
A primary challenge with today’s small business owner is that we cannot have a command and control environment nor can we have an environment that lacks appropriate systems and processes. The solution: create an environment that is always engaging creativity and unlocking the drive in each team member. An article posted recently on the Small Business Forum can help you get started in developing this type of culture in your company.
Are you focused on the right aspects of running your company?
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