If you want to make everyone happy, don't be a leader... sell ice cream

What can I say? I love what I do and I’m quite good at it. In my work to help struggling business owners turn their businesses around, I get paid to be a leader in my field. But it’s not always so glamorous. I frequently have to make the decisions that are met with resistance and it seems that conflict is inevitable.

Conflict is unavoidable when it comes to effective leadership. I constantly remind myself that, “I’m not selling ice cream,” and neither are the business owners I work with. At least not until the day I get hired by an ice cream company. But let’s face it, even ice cream companies can have a hard time pleasing everyone.

Regardless of what they are selling, these business owners hire me for one reason:
To identify problems and present solutions to ensure their company runs at peak efficiency.

As you can imagine, identifying problems is not always so difficult. The real challenge lies in implementing solutions.

The tallest tree catches the most wind.

When it comes to my role in helping businesses increase their profits and customer base, it is inevitable that I will offend certain people. There is always a certain amount of resistance when it comes to criticizing someone’s work, and this resistance is amplified immensely when coming from an outsider.

In times like these I am reminded of a favorite expression of mine. I first learned it in Dutch, and it loosely translates to, “The tallest tree catches the most wind.” I find great wisdom in this saying, especially when it comes to what I do in helping businesses grow.

I attract a lot of attention, both positive and negative, as an expert in my filed. I must have strong roots in leadership and the confidence to make firm decisions.

As a leader in any market, it is impossible to make decisions that appeal to everyone. Like the tallest trees, the higher you grow, the stronger the wind gets. And when a company learns to adopt a culture headed by strong leadership, it plants it’s roots firmly into the ground, providing a solid foundation that extends to employees and customers alike.

When is it time to prune the tree?

An inherent rule of nature is “survival of the fittest,” and the realm of business is no exception to this rule. The tallest tree catches the most wind, but how do you get to be the tallest tree? You must have access to enough water, the best nutrients, and an abundance of sunlight. When unnecessary branches begin using up too many resources it compromises the growth of the entire tree. In nature, these circumstances are left to chance, but in business we have the option of pruning the tree.

As the business world evolves at a rapid pace, the demands on the individual to embrace change are ever-increasing as well.

Employees and business owners alike must be open to new ideas and willing to work together to solve problems and move the company forward.

This was not the case in one of my more recent projects. A company had hired me to come in and evaluate their business from the ground up. I won’t go into details in order to protect the reputations of those involved.

In working directly with one of the partners of the business, one of my main tasks would be to screen the employees of the company to find out who would be open to learning and evolving with the changes I would be implementing. As part of this process I would be holding meetings with all of the employees.

Before the meetings even began I had suspected 3 of the 6 employees would be highly resistant to change, while the other 3 would be open to learning the necessary skills and tools to move the company forward. And, long story short, as the meetings began my suspicions were confirmed. It was time to prune the tree.

Are you feeling stuck trying to “sell ice cream?”

The characteristics of a leader are not always easy to cultivate. I know, from my many experiences in helping businesses reach their full potential, exactly what it takes for a company to become a market leader. It takes clarity of vision and a commitment to do what’s right for the company even if that means making a few people unhappy.

We traditionally think of the relationship of leadership as extending from boss to employee, but we often overlook the responsibility to our customers as well. The vast majority of us do not “sell ice cream.” Even though we have the best interest in mind for our customers and employees we will inevitably be met with resistance.

In my line of work, I am especially aware of the necessity for strong leadership. I am not in the business of making people happy, I am in the business of doing what is best for my clients. That doesn’t mean I seek out conflict and confrontation, but it often goes hand-in-hand with implementing the right solutions.

Do you feel that your business is being held back in some way? If you would like to learn what One Visual Voice can do for your company, please do not hesitate to contact me directly. I will be happy to answer your questions and advise you on exactly how I can help to improve your company’s future.

What is your experience in facing and dealing with resistance in your business?

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