Confessions of a Leader

Time to Read – 100 Seconds

Confessions of a Leader was a phrase first used to me by a CEO, just after he closed his door and before he opened his mouth to whisper “How can I get rid of my dead wood.”

Since that day in September 2002, leaders from all walks of life have shared their biggest dreams, challenges and…confessions.

Sadly my diary only allows me to do one UK public leadership event this year, and for it I have brought together the top ten of these, ranked by the number of times I have heard, read or experienced them. I won’t share the name of country, company or leader of origin; I will share with you exactly what to do about them.

Here’s two of the ten.

7th Place.    “As a company we go on and on about innovation, but all the really exciting ideas get squashed by committee, or consensus.”

Ulster University Business School champions innovation in their entrepreneurial leadership faculty. They have concluded that the creativity agenda has become uncreative, candy-flossy and boring. Business must now find really big, breakthrough ideas and a must-do attitude – how?

Do these three things:

•    As a leader, do your own job, and stop doing other peoples. Give people as much freedom as possible, within a clearly defined, wide framework.
•    Ask your customers this – “what is the one thing we could do for you, that would get you to refer us to three of your friends or business contacts” and do what they tell you.
•    Speak at a local school (great training) and ask the children for ideas on how your company could be more successful.

2nd Place (Runner-Up). “Our projects rarely deliver what they promised”

Do this:

•    Make sure you have a single overall point of ownership for every project – that is one person, and say to that person that they are personally accountable for the delivery of the project and all of its benefits. Give them an incentive for so doing  (pleasure) and a consequence if they do not (pain). Oh yes, and there is no such  thing as an “intangible benefit,” unless of course you enjoy making losses and are fully staffed by volunteers.

With my tangible love and innovative best wishes
David



9 Comments

  • Andy Langler

    Interested in the inital comment regarding “dead wood”. It always been explained to me that wood typically dies very slowly and is almost always killed by an external agent. What was it is the case of this CEO or anyone else who uses that expression for that matter?

  • for runner-up “Our projects rarely deliver what they promised”
    Very penetrating advice. In fact in the ICT world there is a project management approach called Scrum, which insists that any project has a single person responsible for setting direction and prioritising; sometimes also referred to as a the single “wring-able” neck.

    Where are the rest of the other eight of the ten?

  • Marcus Adams

    Andy. Could you say your piece again please, would love to know what it is you are trying to ask.
    ‘What was is the case of this CEO or anyone else who uses that expression for that matter?’
    ?

  • Sam Jacob

    Ownership is so important on a task.
    Don’t let people get away with something if it was their responsibility to deliver.
    They must pay the penalty for getting something wrong, or perhaps have their bonus withdrawn.

  • Tony Weeks

    Good ideas in business should be allowed and should be encouraged, not quashed.
    It is wrong that ideas are discarded in this way.
    Companies should have forums and those people with something to say should be allowed to express their view without comeback. Grievances and bright suggestions should be aired in equal measure.

  • Boris Cahn

    Intangible benefits. Is there such a thing? What about goodwill? That can be one.

  • Chris Everton

    Dead wood can really eat into a company’s profits.
    They sit around all day not doing what they are suppose to do but still get paid doing it because they have been for too long.
    In our company they are getting away with it and it’s not a great atmosphere as people know who the shirkers are.
    I know, because i have been that person until I was got rid of in a previous company. I have mended my ways.

  • Maurice

    What is dead wood?
    Dead wood has been at the company a long time and has to have some knowledge and experience worth tapping into.
    It’s too easy to say let’s get rid of it.

  • Cynthia James

    I was dead wood once, or perceived to be. I made sure I wasn’t again.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.