Are Leaders leading or being led?

As I travel around I hear a common complaint from business people about the regulations that they have to adhere to and the bureaucracy that gets in the way of their business. In truth, they are right. Governments have made running a business like walking through a minefield. It is not just the legislation itself, it is the threats that are in place if you get it wrong!

If you get it wrong, you have to prove your innocence. The Enron disaster has added to the problem, as new legislation comes out to try and ensure that this cannot happen again. It just seems that laws are being made because of the few who have criminal intent.  As a result, our creativity and innovation is being stifled as organisations are afraid to be adventurous in case they get into trouble and end up being sued.

Having said all of this, I want to take a moment to speak about this issue from another point of view. This point of view does not mean the above is not correct, it only seeks to ensure proportion of the blame is shared evenly.

Those of you who know me will be aware of my comments about taking responsibility and the story I tell about pointing the finger of blame. (Remember, when you point your finger at someone, there are three fingers pointing back at you). So what am I saying?

In fairness, as much as Government ‘overdoes it’ it is causing problems for businesses, businesses themselves need to look at their responsibilities.

Let us take the environment as an example. We are facing global warming which is affecting our planet due to the way we have abused it for years. Yes, we can argue the degree of the problem, but anyone with any awareness about them will acknowledge there is a problem.

So here is my question to leaders and organisations around the world (especially those that are quick to complain about the legislation imposed on them): are you doing something about it or are you waiting for legislation?

If organisations did something about it, there would be little or no need for legislation. The truth is, we have got to the stage where we wait for the legislation to act as though we have no idea what to do!!!

The problem with waiting for legislation is that when it arrives, managers and staff get told what to do and that it has to be done “because there are new laws”. So what happens then? people resent the imposition and we create a culture that looks something like this:

Nobody does anything unless they are told what to do;

When they get told, they resent it and fight back;

When forced they submit to the minimum required;

They actively seek ways to get around the rules;

So my challenge this month is, are leaders leading, or are they being led?

Consider these questions:

As leaders, are we waiting for legislation, or are we leading the necessary change? 

Are we creating a culture in our organisation where people seek ways to conserve energy, recycle, be greener and limit our impact on the environment, or are we waiting for the legislation to force us and then create additional problems as people resent the legislation?

Australia developed a recycling culture long before it was fashionable, and they did this by education. Their approach was to educate people on the importance of recycling and supporting them rather than imposing rules.

How are you leading the change in your organisation through education and responsibility? Or are you waiting for the next set of rules?

So consider this month’s questions:

Do you lead the changes your organisation needs to make? 

Are you an example of the changes that you are seeking to introduce?

Do you make changes through education?

Are you creating ownership for the way things need to be done?

Are people clear about how important this is to you, the business, the country, the planet or whatever it is you are trying to achieve through change?

Do you ensure people put these things into perspective so that they can understand and appreciate the importance and necessity of making changes?

In this session, I have used environmental issues as an example, but in truth, any change you need to make requires the same process and thinking.

Best Wishes, Paul


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