Owners: Could You Be The Stumbling Block To Progress In Your Organization?

This is an article that will probably be read by ONLY those who are humble enough and committed enough to really want the truth. That means it will only be read by a few. Can you say: Competitive Advantage?

Booz & Co’s Strategy + Business magazine offers some significant insights into this question. My experience? You probably are the stumbling block. That can be fixed with a little effort. Be sure and take the interactive survey (ouch). Be brave and have your staff take it as well.

strat + bus logoIn almost all organizations, some leaders pave the way for their employees to do their best work, and others inadvertently make things much harder than they should be. Where do you fall on this continuum? Do you help or do you hinder? In all probability, it’s the latter. According to our research, your employees are more likely to view you as an obstacle to their effectiveness than as an enabler of it—and that holds true whether your organization is successful or stumbling.

People expect to find bad bosses in failing companies. However, in surveys and interviews with more than 250 working professionals in 37 countries, we’ve found that 51 percent of employees across the full spectrum of organizational performance believe initiatives tend to succeed despite, not because of, their leaders. All employees think that their bosses hinder their effectiveness from time to time. But the prevalence of this phenomenon even in successful organizations (as defined by respondents to our surveys) is eye-opening. READ MORE…

Just Exactly Who Are You?

I ran across this recently. If you have ever taken the Myers Briggs Personality Inventory I think you will find it interesting. Click on the graphic and you will be able to view it in your browser. When it appears in your browser you can zoom in by clicking again.

BY THE WAY: This is what is called an infographic. Infographics will soon begin to make their way into the obituary world and my eventually eclipse today’s “industrial” form.  (your heard it here first)


Can anyone guess which I am? Hint: Think social media.

Good News From NPR?

NPR radio is producing something called “StoryCorps” in which they feature stories of every day people. This week they chose the story of a funeral director and his story that casts all of us in a pretty good light. Odd for this to be featured on the usually contentious NPR but it’s uplifting and sometimes we need a good story. click on the link:

nprlogo_138x46 Following in the Family Footsteps


You can ‘t like everyone

Let’s face it, if you have more than a couple of people on your payroll there is going to be someone you don’t like. Of course, this is funeral service so we feel we have to “like” everyone. So we pretend and, since everyone eventually figures out we are pretending, it makes things worse. At the same time, some of the people we don’t like make valuable contributions to our organization. In fact, sometimes the person is your brother or father or whatever.

Here is some excellent insight on how to deal with this vexing situation:

 hbrEverybody complains about incompetent bosses or dysfunctional co-workers, but what about irritating direct reports? What should you do if the person you manage drives you crazy? If the behavior is a performance issue, there’s a straightforward way to address what’s irking you — but what do you do when it’s an interpersonal issue? Is it possible to be a fair boss to someone you’d avoid eating lunch with — or must you learn to like every member of your team? More Reading…

When It’s Time To Gracefully Exit

The ownership role of any entity is a cycle: Learning, leading, mentoring and, finally, leaving. This essay offers interesting insights on when one should leave gracefully.

Screen Shot 2013-07-16 at 10.39.12 AMPerhaps such criticism is warranted. But Peter Drucker would say that Pincus, so far, has at least done the right thing in stepping aside. “As a new venture develops and grows, the rules and relationships of the original entrepreneurs inexorably change,” he wrote in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “If the founders refuse to accept this, they will stunt the business and may even destroy it.”…More at When to Share Your Baby | The Drucker Exchange | Daily Blog by

Is your heir killing your business??

This is an interesting blog for our profession.  Most times family succession works out..in a way… but sometimes it backfires. This blog from Harvard Business review sheds some light on impact and sometimes unpleasant actions.  Just remember it works both ways. Sometimes the Successor needs to address issues with parents or uncles too.

hbrAs the eldest son of the family patriarch, Denis went directly from university into the family business. During his entire career, he worked in his father’s span of control, reporting directly to his dad within six years of joining the business.

Denis has always been the presumptive heir apparent for the CEO position. The apple of his father’s eye, Denis could do no wrong, including doubling a sales force while halving sales and running a new cosmetic division into the ground. Each of these career steps led to more and more responsibility befitting a rising—not a failing—executive.

Non-family employees, knowing that someday Denis would be their boss, kept their mouths shut—or exited the organization, leading to a drain on talent.

Ultimately, however, the other family owners of the business had to end this dangerous game of “chicken.” Denis’s had risen high enough in the organization that underperformance was becoming a threat to the health of the overall business.  Read more

Are You A Problem Patriarch In Your Business

By all accounts family businesses are complicated. In my practice I often find myself exposing the “Elephant In The Room.” The colors of the elephant vary and this article deals with one that is particularly difficult. There are many factors that cause good people to become problem patriarchs (or matriarchs). By the time they are in that place the causative factors are less important than stopping the negative impact they are having.

This is an interesting diagnostic article. Read it and see if the shoe fits.


hbrBut there was a darker side to Carl’s success.

Although his first act was one of the best ever, he became a “problem patriarch,” a very hard-driving alpha leader who hired superb talent within the family and the business — and then consistently undermined that talent.

He drove his sister out of the company by placing her in a succession of dead-end jobs. His uncle resigned from the board saying that he wouldn’t be part of a “paper board,” in which Carl effectively made all the key decisions. Carl responded by maneuvering to buy most of his uncle’s shares. In the process, he created a leadership vacuum that threatened the very legacy he had worked so hard to build.

When he had a heart attack at 64, Carl’s doctors cautioned him to slow down. Worried both about his health — and about the prospects for the company — family members strongly advised Carl to step aside. Not surprisingly, he selected a relatively inexperienced CEO he knew he could control. People in the organization had no doubt about where the buck really stopped.

More Reading


Lessons In Leadership

You have heard me say (and you will hear it often) that funeral service is underled and overmanaged. This is a result of confusion on the part of our profession between the task of directing activities and the duty to develop your people.

Funeral home owners overwhelming hire employees that will do what they are told, push decisions upward and never make mistakes. Yet they say they want people who will think for themselves, grow in responsibility and take the burden off senior management. This schizophrenic perspective is simply the consequence of a wrong belief about what leaders do. The result: The majority of owners (I actually don’t know more than a handful of exceptions) really function as shop foremen.

This article offers some tips on how to stop being a foreman and start being a leader:


Screen Shot 2013-03-20 at 1.43.24 PMThink about a leader and chances are your first image is of someone giving orders — maybe it’s the quarterback in a huddle outlining the next play for his teammates, maybe it’s an army officer coolly  barking commands in the heat of combat. But chances are, when many of us think of leadership, we picture a person telling others what to do.

After all, that’s the essence of leadership, right?

Wrong, says Christine Comaford, an executive coach and author of SmartTribes: How Teams Become Brilliant Together who recently participated in a series of interviews on the website of fellow author Keith Ferrazzi. In the course of a long exchange about leadership, she tells the story of an executive she was coaching who couldn’t stop telling his employees how to do day-to-day things.

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The Dark Side of Customer Service

The practice of overcharging our best customers has begun to haunt us…no, hurt us! While not the only reason for the growth of cremation, many now believe that forcing our burial customers to bear the burden and subsidize our cremation customers has definitely accelerated the trend. This entertaining article makes the point well.

Screen Shot 2013-07-20 at 8.11.27 AMHave you ever done business with a company that initially offered great customer service, but it quickly faded? Or have you done business with a company for years and discover you are paying a higher price than what is offered to new customers? If so, you’re not alone.

Companies invest a great deal of time, money and resources to find and get new customers. When they aren’t completely transparent with customers, or lose sight of delivering great customer experience after a sale, they risk losing customers to their competitors. And this misses the entire point of acquiring new customers in the first place. The investment of acquiring new customers begins to pay off when a customer is loyal and continues to do business with a company. But too often, businesses, even entire industries, lose sight of this goal or worse, take advantage of customers.

Read More…


How Do You Handle Conflict With Families…With Colleagues…With Siblings…With You Name It


Let’s face it conflict is part of life, we all hate it, not many of us are good at it and we would all rather avoid it.  But like it or not we MUST become better at it.  Here are some great guidelines from noted management and leadership expert John Maxwell:

Screen Shot 2013-07-19 at 8.59.01 AM“I love mankind – it’s people I can’t stand.” Charlie Brown, in Charles Schulz’ timeless comic strip, “Peanuts”

Charlie Brown had a point: relationships with other human beings are wonderful – in theory. In reality, they can be difficult and messy. But nothing determines our success in life as much as our ability to work with other people.

And nothing is more messy in relationships than dealing with conflict. But I believe there are both constructive and destructive ways to approach it. Here are my top ten responses:

More Reading CLICK HERE