“Employ your time in improving yourself by other men’s writings, so that you shall gain easily what others have labored hard for.” – Socrates
Sometimes leaders expect that people like me and other consultants mold people, companies and brands into what they are.
Some of us try to do that. What we actually do, or atleast should do, is to bring out what’s already there. We should ask the questions others don’t know to ask and basically hold up a mirror so that they can see themselves more clearly.
The other day I was talking to a CEO about one of their competitors and they asked me what I thought about them. I had no answer. I seldom do when the questions are based on numbers and results.
The only thing I could do to show my thoughts was to bring up their competitors website and show what their customers were saying and doing. There were a lot of complaints and subpar products. Still, that company had a revenue of about 75 million USD.
Sometimes we can’t give people anything but the truth. We shouldn’t work to change them. In this case the truth was that if they wanted to really compete they’d have to bring in high margin products that were, let’s face it, shit.
Was that what they wanted to give their customers? Sure, they’d be making a buttload of dineros but at what cost?
For some people money is the sole motivation. It’s based on the results. That’s fine. It doesn’t bring stability, loyalty or trust. If you can live with that then we’re good.
But if there’s a chance that you want to make something built to last it takes time and energy. To make it grow you’ll have to look hard at every part of the process and at times be willing to do what’s morally right instead of what’s financially sound.
I’ve been asked a few times whether I thought that i’d say and do the same things if I was on the opposite side of the conversation. I’d like to think I would. But I know that I haven’t got the same kind of skin in the game. I’d like to think that it’s a good thing too. It gives an outsider’s perspective.
We all know the feeling of being in a conversation with a friend who presents us with a problem and we instantly know the answer. We feel it and it surprises us that our friend knows it too but that their situation clouds their judgement. We’ve probably been that friend far more often than we care to admit as well.
So what we can do as friends, colleagues or consultants is to give people clarity.
Should we try to change their minds? No. Should we mold them? No.
We should simply listen to them, hold up a mirror to them and tell them the truth they need to hear. We can give them is a safe place to reflect and play around with possible solutions.
“If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it. Anything you want to, do it, Want to change the world? There’s nothing to it.” – Willy Wonka