Traditional, hierarchical leadership styles are practiced in the majority of businesses worldwide, and these can be seen to create transactional employees, who function on a reward and punishment basis. This may be the established norm but is it really the model that can achieve the best working conditions and business outcomes for everyone?
Radically changing our perception of the way we think and feel around what power structures in our minds operate can liberate us from restrictive ways of thinking and enable us to free ourselves from the limits and our own ‘glass ceilings’ we have been bound by. We grow up in our homes, societies and unless we know how, we’re pretty much conditioned by our socialisation, and look to our community leaders to make sense of our lives.
As leaders, we have a vital role to play within organisations, enabling the best from every individual we work with and creating a structure within which all can thrive. We all, of course, bring our experiences and attitudes to our working life, and the way we have been shaped will impact upon the type of leader we are.
We tend to see the workplace as entirely separate from the home and personal life of the individual, but theorists such as Kegan and Lahey argue that this is unhelpful and restrictive. What if, instead, we realised the connections between the public and the private spheres, and began to operate our businesses on these terms?
Having spent many years living and working in South Africa and around the World, I have developed my business theory from the observations that apartheid-like systems are operating within businesses worldwide. I believe that many businesses are working with established Top Down management structures that are based on a system of power, knowledge and risk similar in setup to apartheid, feeding on division and a lack of information and trust, creating a belief that this is the ‘right’ way to lead.
Is your business plan realistic? Whether you are running a small, local business or a large, multinational corporation, you will have a business plan with projections about where you want to be. How does this compare with where you are? If you’re meeting your targets consistently and reaching or exceeding your financial projections, sit back, you’re getting it right. However, if your results are not matching up to your targets in any area of your business, or if you would like to be doing better, now could be a great time to take a look at your business plan and implement change.
January is a time of great enthusiasm and motivation across the business world, but unfortunately, most people who make New Year’s resolutions will have set them aside by the end of the month. If you intend to make this a year of real change, especially if you want to take your business to a new level of success, it could be time to take a new perspective and harness the positive energy around you for your own development.
Whether you are running a small local business or a large multi-national enterprise, you have probably chosen your area of expertise according to your skills. We are all aware that it is not necessarily true that the employees and leaders of small businesses are less skilled than their counterparts in big business, but it is clear that they are operating at different levels of success, and it is interesting to question the reasons for this.
How does your business collect and work with feedback? If you have a foolproof strategy for exploring and discussing feedback on every level, from customer reviews to employee appraisals, and a process by which this is incorporated into future operations, you can sit back and congratulate yourself on a job well done.
This is a rare occurrence, and a gap in business philosophy that often costs companies revenue that they are unaware they are losing.
My business practice, and the theory that I use with my clients every day, is informed by the experiences and lessons of my life, and the personal attitudes that I hold. In particular, I believe that my experience of living within a system of apartheid has informed my thinking about how divisive it is when a collective cannot work together for the benefit of the whole.