Doing Whatever it Takes can be a Bad Thing

Business failure is not the direct result of a few behemoth mistakes made without warning or insight but rather the culmination of mismanaged business practices and bad decisions made overtime. That is not to say that all successful companies made every decision correctly. In fact, often they made many wrong decisions along the way, costing them valuable time and money. However, in the end they eventually made the right decisions, which led them to the success they enjoy today.

Success leaves clues and behind every business success story is a series of “right” actions and decisions. This includes everything from implementing financial controls, hiring a sales team, choosing a branding strategy, developing customer-centric policies to the use of legal contracts and the formation of strategic partners.

A company leader must make sure the right people are doing the right things. This requires both leadership skills and knowledge about the numerous business functions that exist within a company. Given their level of influence, they can build or destroy the company.

One of my clients, a high-energy CEO of a medical products distribution company had a talent for finding new ideas and opportunities. He surrounded himself with a flurry of people and activities, attending every function or meeting that he thought would construct the latest and greatest. Whereas his behaviors produced positive results as a front person for the company, he wreaked havoc internally. The president would return with an idea and the company would invest scarce resources into the deployment of that idea without a thorough vetting process to determine the risk, reward and cost. The end result was a lot of half-backed ideas and wasted money. Eventually the company went out of business.

Another client was a president of a commercial products company who had been high-level salesperson accustomed to doing “what it takes to get the sale”. When faced with competitive bid request, he would include specific terms and conditions that the company could not meet, such as providing project funding or adhering to project bond request. His “at all cost” behavior when isolated to a sales position may have only affected a single customer with an over-promised/under delivered expectation. However, now that he owns the President’s title his behaviors could place the company in financial and legal jeopardy.

Leaders have to respect the impact that their words and directions have on the other members of the organization. They set the tone in a company and establish the organizational culture. Their beliefs and values become ingrained throughout the entire organization.

A leader with a powerful conviction can catapult an organization to overcome great obstacles whereas a leader with a “do anything to win” manifesto can prompt unwanted behaviour with disastrous repercussions.

Lori educates and inspires entrepreneurs. Her company Business Simply Put provides information, advice and tools to succeed in business. Whether you are starting a company or growing an existing business, these tools will define your pathway to success. For more information visit or send an email to [email protected]. She loves to hear from inspired entrepreneurs!

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