don't be a leader... sell ice cream

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

In my line of work I help successful business owners make more profit and turn struggling businesses around to a more healthy business operation.

I love what I do and I’m quite good at it, and I get paid to be a leader in my field.

But it’s not always so glamorous. I frequently have to make decisions that are met with resistance and it seems that sometimes conflict is inevitable. Conflict is in some environments unavoidable when it comes to effective leadership. Constantly reminding 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 experts 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.

High trees catch a lot of wind.

When it comes to my role in helping businesses increase their profits and customer base, it is inevitable that certain people resist change and can feel offended. 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 idiom. I first learned it in Dutch "Hoge bomen vangen veel wind", and it translates to, “High trees catch a lot of 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.

Important figures often get the most attention and critique. They are judged (often negatively) for what they do and say– certainly more than average. People in important positions are often role models. We watch them and have opinions about what they do. In a more neutral sense, this idiom can suggest that "people in high positions" have more pressure, get more attention, and must carry more responsibility.

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 does your business 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 particular project. A company had hired me to come in and evaluate their business from the ground up. 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. This ratio of 30/70 to 50/50 is what I usually encounter. 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 only the few people against change 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 sometimes 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 onevisualvoice 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?

#business #company #employees #leadership

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