As a business leader you drive the car, set the destination and direction but that is just the start…
Shawn recognises this is just the beginning. “You have to be involved right through the process and have a full understanding of what is happening in the business. I believe, that to be successful you have to be the engine of the car and the oil that keeps all the parts moving well together.”
He goes on to explain that, the engine of the car is like the operational side of a business. “Essentially it pushes the car forward. It can be a dirty, tricky business but without it nothing works, the car does not move and the business does not progress. As the head of the business my involvement is crucial to moving the business forward. I have to be the engine, fully involved in what is happening on a day to day basis, understanding where we are going and making sure that the business goes in that direction.”
The danger is, however, that your head is firmly in operational mode and you do not look round to see danger signs that are happening organisationally. “This is where, I believe, that a business leader has an essential role that I liken to being the “oil” in the engine.” He goes on to explain, “As the oil, I have to make sure that all the moving parts of the engine work together, so that things do not grate and processes and people work in harmony. Only when that happens can the car, or the business, move forward smoothly and economically.”
So it sounds that the business needs regular oil checks to make sure that the parts are in harmony. “Absolutely, keeping communication channels open, making sure that people are able to approach you to let you know when there is an issue and regularly taking the temperature of the organisation is vital”.
Shawn believes that paying attention to Employee Surveys, putting time into appraisals, making sure you do exit interviews, allowing people the space to tell you what is going well and what is going now so well is key to the running of a successful business. However, more importantly, acting upon this is vital. “If the dials on your dashboard are showing that something is not running smoothly with your car, then you have to act to put it right.” The same applies to the so called “soft” indicators.
“We can all read a balance sheet, but other indicators – people’s opinions and views – will give you the underlying reasons why things may not be going in the direction you want. You ignore these at your peril. In these days, when getting the right people in the right job, is evermore difficult, we want to make sure we keep good people. Listening to them and keeping them on board is vital. Be the oil in the machine that keeps the car moving forward! Keep listening to your people and communicating to take your business forward!