Too often, people try to hide problems from their leaders.
This is wrong… As a CEO, I’ve always encouraged people – staff, customers, suppliers – to tell me of the problem areas: if I don’t know about them I can’t help to resolve them.
Hiding them generally just makes things worse – customers vote with their feet, as do suppliers and staff if they don’t feel valued. Everyone wants to be part of a successful team, and success is about resolving the inevitable problems that occur.
Being surrounded by “yes men” is the wrong approach – leaders need to know the issues and then actively help to address them. Similarly, boards need the CEO to be open about problem areas so they can help to address them, even to the extent of modifying the strategy if appropriate for the problem (e.g. COVID).
Ask your customers, suppliers and staff three questions:
- What are we doing well, and should keep doing or do more of?
- What are we doing badly, and should do less of, or stop doing?
- What are we not doing that you would like us to do?
Successful businesses are those where the leadership team actively seeks out the areas in which they can improve / change and then act on this information.
Problems identified lead to new opportunities and a stronger business: they truly are a gift.