In my research of why 95% of CEOs fail to grow their business, where 17% grow incrementally and slowly, 48% hit a growth plateau, 11% hit a debt trap and 19% go bankrupt, I found one of the key reasons was that these business owners are unable to motivate their teams to take ownership and get things done.
When I look at that dynamic, I found something very interesting.
I found that the people who are working in that core team, when they were students, throughout their student life on a daily basis the job that they were trying to do, like all of us, including me, is to stay out of academic trouble.
And if the student is absolutely brilliant and he is in the first or the second in the class, he wants to stay out of academic trouble because he is the critic.
He doesn’t want to drop to the third or fourth or second place.
He wants to stay out of trouble with himself.
The next level is to stay out of trouble with his parents, who are expecting, let’s say, 95% marks.
The next level are people who want to stay out of trouble with their teachers who are expecting, let’s say, 90% marks and the next level is they want to stay out of trouble with the admission officer of the next program or college that they want to go to who is expecting 85%.
It doesn’t really matter who the critic is or who the judge is.
The constant struggle for all those 16 to 17 years is to stay out of academic trouble and the guy who is an absolute bottom-line, he wants to stay out of trouble by getting just the pass mark. If he doesn’t get the pass mark then he’s in big trouble.
It doesn’t really matter where you are in that whole process, the dynamic is stay out of trouble.
When these people graduate and they come into work and they are promoted and they reach this core team level, daily the job that they’re trying to do still remains the same, to stay out of trouble.
And now this business owner is the principal and all the other managers are the teachers.
It’s just like they changed school, subconsciously it’s the same kind of – from one institute to another institute, from a public institute to a private institute.
But the key job that they’re trying to do is to stay out of trouble.
The CEO is doing another job, is to increase ROI, to increase sales, profits, now here is conflict.
That the CEO wants to make his business grow at a rapid pace but the core team wants to stay out of trouble and that’s the drag, that’s the disconnect.
One is dragging the other which leads to this incremental growth.
And the problem here is that there is no safe space for the core team to show up every day, engage, participate, take decisions, take ownership, make mistakes because if they make mistakes they’re going to be in big trouble. They might as well avoid making mistakes.
Who do you blame here? The answer to that is nobody.
It has nothing to do about blaming, it is about understanding this dynamic.
When you understand this dynamic, when you grasp this dynamic, the next steps become easy.
The next steps is sit with your core team and open up and say, listen guys, you know what do we need to do, continue doing that’s working?
What do we need to stop doing including me as the CEO, and what will encourage you, enable you to participate and make things happen?
And slowly that dialogue, it takes time, it’s not something that’s going to happen instantly, but slowly slowly slowly when they realize that they have the room, they have the space, they have the comfort to make mistakes that you’re going to back them up, they’re not stupid, they realize that they made a mistake, but if they have that safe space, then they’re no longer coming to work every single day to stay out of trouble.
They’re coming every single day to partner the CEO to increase sales, profits, cash flows, valuation and all of that good stuff.
Video reference number: 022005