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.

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…

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


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

Tips For Turning Around Your Funeral Home

It has been my lot in life to be in leadership roles in a number of business turnarounds from banks to print shops, flower shops to funeral this article hits the top 4 needs (ignoring cash) I especially like 3 and 4.

Screen Shot 2013-07-12 at 3.32.50 PM However, according to Bennigan’s current president and CEO Paul Mangiamele — the man at the helm of the franchise’s resurgence – consumers didn’t abandon Bennigan’s, the brand was brought down by what Mangiamele describes as “brand drift.”

“Brand drift is an insidious disease that happens to many brands when the brand moves away from the many elements that made it successful in the first place,” says Mangiamele. “You need to constantly reinvent yourself so you don’t lose relevance.”

Read more: Fox Small Business

Family Business Infighting

Current literature abounds with research revealing that, despite added issues, family businesses tend to be sustainable longer than non family businesses.  Why is that?

hbrIt’s one of life’s sad ironies that folks who love one another can end up having far more acrimonious business relations than people who are unrelated.

And yet in our experience, conflict actually occurs less frequently in family businesses than non-family businesses. It’s just that when it does break out, the fighting tends to be more intense.

Why is that? The answer is devilishly simple. Fights in family businesses break out because they can. In non-family businesses, there are barriers to keep things from escalating. Owning the business removes many of these barriers. Once a conflict starts, it can easily spiral out of control.

It isn’t that the causes of conflict are any different in family and non-family businesses. In all types of companies, people disagree about issues related to strategy, money, status, and authority. No organization is immune to narcissistic leaders or difficult relationships between employees. But there is a fundamental difference in the two types of companies in what stops conflicts. The difference, in a word, is boundaries.

More Reading

The Sunk Cost Fallacy

You have heard the phrase “don’t throw good money after bad.” Why do we do it?

When we commit to something that costs significant money and it doesn’t work out most people are unwilling to pull the plug. So, good money continues to go toward a loser. Not long ago a senior executive called me and asked if I knew anyone in the pet cremation business who was making meaningful money. I told him I didn’t know anyone who was making ANY money much less meaningful money including the guy who started it. But I do know a lot of people who have created some really innovative excuses for keeping it going. He responded that he couldn’t find anyone either and that were considering shutting down their efforts. Yet, that effort had gone on for a long time and, for all I know, still is.


Screen shot 2012-07-02 at 8.03.03 PMThis sunk costs situation happens much too often in business.  We insist on getting value out of the money we’ve already spent.  We become determined NOT to lose money.  We can’t — we won’t — let go.

However, by not letting go when something isn’t working, we can end up losing a lot more.  We keep pouring money, time and effort into something that has no chance of working or would lead to a poor result at best.  The project or initiative  keeps costing more and more.  Instead of cutting our losses, we compound them by hanging on.  We make our losses worse….More at What Are Sunk Costs? – Small Business Trends

My opinion? I admire people who can admit mistakes and move on. Don’t you? It’s far more embarrassing to keep betting on a loser.

Leadership: Standing Alone Doesn’t Mean Being Alone

We have all heard it before: “It’s lonely at the top.”  HOGWASH!

YES.  There are times when you have to have to act alone.  You…and only you…can make a decision.  “The Buck Really Does Stop Here.” But leaders…especially leaders of knowledge workers…know they need to be transparent and authentic.  In a word.  It’s OK to be vulnerable.

Standing alone does not mean going it alone.  It does mean trusting yourself and taking the risk to let yourself be seen, standing firm in your beliefs even when your internal voice challenges you with, “What if I am wrong? What if I make a mistake –what will people think?  I’m really not smart enough. This is really hard.”  What does Standing Alone as a leader REALLY mean?  CCL