There are lots of articles telling you what you should do in business to achieve success, but not quite as many tell you what you should never do. Using Boris Johnson’s short and seemingly disastrous tenure as prime minister as a template, I thought I’d share the five things you should NEVER do in business.
1: Lie to your customers.
It’s understandable, you really want to make the sale (or become prime minister) so you get a little carried away with the porky pies. Hey, everyone lies in marketing, right? So what’s one or 20 little lies in the scheme of things?
The issue, of course, is trust. When you don’t have your customer’s trust, you’ll also stop receiving their money (or in Boris’s case, votes.) Boris may make blatantly lying to the public his ‘thing,’ but the truth always outs.
In business, when this happens, you’ll have to face the consequences of your actions. At the very least, your brand will be severely tarnished. At worse, your business will fail, and failure is a hard place to come back from.
2. Take huge action without a real plan.
Boris, Boris, Boris, did you really think this whole Brexit Ejectit, thing through? It looks to the rest of the world like you leapt into this whole debacle bottom first and are now grasping at straws trying to cling on to power.Tweet
Similarly, as a business owner, you may have a burst of what seems like true inspiration, but the inspirational idea requires you to make huge changes to your business. Following that inspiration blindly, without any real guarantee of outcome, is asking for trouble.
You need to take a breath, sit down and work out the numbers and logistics. Look at which aspects of the business will be heavily impacted if you make this huge change.
Have a contingency plan and a contingency income, for if things go wrong. Also make sure you have friends and advisors you can trust. Ones who don’t have their own agenda and aren’t steering you wrong.
3: Take a position you’re definitely not qualified for.
I had fantasies of what I’d become when I was an adult. I wanted to be superman – there wasn’t a superwoman tag available, and supergirl didn’t sound quite as cool to me.
Yet on reaching adulthood and discovering I have severe issues with flying sickness, colour blindness, and vertigo, my desire to fly free in blue spandex was scuppered.
Now I’m not saying that Boris isn’t qualified for the position of leader of the country (okay I am) but he certainly seems to be somewhat out of his depth, to put it mildly.
In business, you have to play to your strengths. If you know numbers aren’t your thing, why would you take the position of CFO? It makes no sense. Know your strengths and build on your weaknesses, or find someone who is strong where you’re weak, to take the lead.
4: Ignore your employees or business partner.
This is a biggy. When your employees or partner speak up to tell you en masse that what you’re doing is wrong, unethical or not working, maybe take a moment to listen.
Perhaps if only one or two, speak up then fair enough, everyone has an opinion. Yet when a significant number step up and call you on your behaviour or policies, they might be worth paying attention to.
Boris certainly acted in haste and ended up reducing his parliamentary majority to minus one. All this, simply because he chose to grandstand rather than face up to his critics. Don’t be like Boris.
Don’t go against what your business needs just because you’d rather grandstand to prove how in charge you are. It’s not a good look.
5: Deny responsibility when you’ve messed up.
We all mess up. Some more than others, but we all mess up. Mr Johnson is going through a right old time of it due to his actions.
Rather than admit his part in the chaos going on in the UK parliament, he finds it easier to lash out and repeat blatant falsehoods. It’s his coping mechanism and he does it on automatic pilot, even when it’s no longer working.
But taking ownership and responsibility when you’re the one in charge, is a sign of great leadership. If you have let a customer down, or your product or service didn’t deliver as promised, then own it. There’s no point making excuses or blaming the customers, clients, or the dog who ate your common sense.
Rather, face up to it, apologise and make good. This includes taking a good look at your business setup and practices to see why the problem happened in the first place!
So what do you think? Are there other things you would add to the list? I’m sure there are many. I just chose a few that seemed to pertain to Mr Johnson in particular. Comment and let me know your thoughts.
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