• 50 Shades of Grey, Small Business Edition

    How could I not take up the challenge of finding the link between the 50 Shades juggernaut and my beloved Stage 2 small business clients!?!

    Putting aside the more mundane topics of what Christian Grey’s DISC profile is, the importance of proper inventory processes, and the merits of NDAs, I’m struck by the similarity between Christian’s dominant role and how Shane Yount, owner of the Process-Based Leadership system, describes some companies:

    “(Managing by position, proximity, or persuasion) creates dependency. Employees become dependent on their leaders to make the decisions, to solve the problems, to show them what to do and when to do it. Certainly managing by position, proximity and persuasion gets short-term results. But dependency is dysfunctional.”

    It may seem extreme to draw a parallel between 50 Shades’ dominant/submissive relationship and how many small business leaders operate, but there’s probably more truth to it than many owners would like to admit.

    Recently I talked with a group of Stage 2 company CEOs, and one of their big a-ha moments was when they realized how dependent their organizations are on the leader’s opinion, intuition, and judgment.

    If you realize that your leadership is out of balance, or if your employees start to refer to you as Mr/Ms Grey…what can you do?

    The first step is creating a dialogue with your managers.  You want a process to be guiding the company, not a person, and to do that, you need to start a process that involves your leaders in key decisions – and then you need to stay committed to it.  And, if you’ve been doing a lot of the talking, start listening more.  Don’t totally hand over the reins, but start to share them.

    What should you talk about?  To start, I like to focus on today – what is working, what isn’t working?  Once you have things working OK, then you can start looking out farther on the horizon – to the next few months, and then to the next year, and then to the next 2-3 years.

    Let’s be honest about something Christian Grey knows – it’s fun and exciting to be in charge, to be The One Who Makes the Calls.  But it’s also not sustainable, and if you’re looking for your business to prosper for the long-run, you need to mature as a leader and expand how you relate to your business.

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