What is happening inside Corporations?
What happened to Americas great corporations?
Economists now recognize that there was a corporate age that lasted for about 25 years, and it existed between the industrial and the information ages. Economic ages just don’t die completely; they become smaller and less relevant to the overall economy. The agrarian age for example, in less than 100 years went from involving 30% percent of the population to about 2% today. So what happened to the corporate age? Why some corporations still thrive and many others falter? The one word answer is LEADERSHIP. Great companies are led by great leaders with the primary focus on developing new and better leaders. Bad leaders are incapable of developing good leaders. Another factor at play is the emerging new economic age, the entrepreneurial community age. Yes, the corporate renegades are starting their own businesses. They are getting together in teams and forming communities so they can leverage their strengths while improving their weaknesses. They are working hard and they are having a time of their lives. Remember the days when the secure thing was to work for a big corporation, with great benefits and job security? How is it working lately? How many workforce reductions (re-engineering, down-sizing, right-sizing, and lean-sizing, etc.) have you survived so far? The truth is that the most insecure thing today is to work for a big corporation. Security is no longer where it used to be. Security today is in the speed of our learning while building our own enterprises. So what happened? Many bad leaders, hidden behind or inside their corporate cultures, are responsible for the decay of good companies. In a flat world, a company lifespan is getting shorter and shorter. Remember Circuit City? Great leaders build the right culture and the culture builds the great corporations, the great businesses. Bad leaders, with unproductive boards, destroy corporations; they self-destruct. There is a way out. Get educated. Don’t sit and rot inside your cubicle. Watch out as you may be working for a corporation on its way to the cemetery? Companies are not developing enough leaders. How come? Simple, most companies do not have an internal proven system to develop future leaders. They focus too much on hard skills and too little on soft, human skills.
The 7 daily nuggets focus is on the positive. Well, not today. Today I decided to focus on the bad and the ugly. Will you excuse me for a day? If so, please continue for the signs if it is time to develop yourself into a leader.
1) Bad leaders are in deep denial. a) It won’t happen to us; we have been around for over 50 or 100 years. b) Our products are staples now, people need them. c) This new change or program will do it for us. Isolation and denial are big leadership problems. Another problem is the lack of character. Bad leaders don’t do what they say they are going to do. Integrity is not enough. Remember Enron? True leaders must have the courage to face the brutal reality. If the dog and pony shows for bosses and for Wall Street is still happening then you are definitely working for a potential dinosaur. False leaders cannot deal with the truth. They complain about managing over BS yet still love it.
2) Bad leaders are arrogant. We are the best in the industry! We are killing the competition! Then when the numbers are fall short of expectations, let’s find a culprit to place blame, and of course do the firing. If the company stock price is stagnant for over a decade, you are working for a future dinosaur no matter what the leaders say.
3) Bad leaders are complacent and incompetent. Incompetent leaders cannot grow the business so they keep on acquiring other companies. Future corporate dinosaurs have a tendency to fire the smart employees and retain the compliant, the poor talented ones. How well the company integrates new employees, especially those with industry experience coming from a different company culture?
4) Bad leaders suffer from program-itis. We will fire 10% or 20% of the workers and the others will get the program. False leaders are dysfunctional as they keep on bringing one grandiose program after another since the last one failed to produce the results it was intended to. How many times have you moved offices? How many bosses have you had? Have you had any bad bosses? Is your current one a bad one? There is heavy focus on compliance. People responsible for implementing the decisions are not part of making the decisions. Every failed program is another nail in the coffin. Lessons are repeated until lessons are learned. Don’t be blind, look at what the scoreboard says?
5) Bad leaders have double standards. Compare the corporate values with the real values. The leaders just keep on saying one thing doing another or just being the super nice all the time, denying the facts... Can you imagine the money wasted by corporations in implementing programs just because it sounded good to Wall Street? A classic case is with regard to employee diversity. Loyalty is a two way street. A company cannot expect to have loyal employees if it keeps handing out pink slips. No wonder there is little innovation. Threatened employees don’t innovate very well or do they?
6) Bad leaders breathe inconsistencies. Us versus them mentality sets in and it becomes part of the company culture. Employees point to the leadership of the company and the leadership of the company points to the employees. Guess who wins the Blame Game?
7) Bad leaders no longer hear the truth. People tell them what they think the leaders want to hear. While all this is going on, the rumor mill and the gossip run rampant. The toxic culture is out of control. Fear of losing the job is common. Imagine the wasted energy worrying about things that are not in one’s control? If you hear “I have only 8 or 5 or 2 more years to go” often around the water cooler, you could be talking with a sacred cow or bull on the way out.
Be blessed and be a blessing to others
Carlos Fontana, President of Phalanx
Co-author of the book Follow to Lead (The 7 Principles to Being a Great Follower)
Author of the book PRICELESS (Sixty-Six Simple Stories of Reflection, Love, and Legacy)