The Parliamentary Culture Select Committee has declared Robert Murdoch is “not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company”.
A bit rich from a parliament not so long ago immersed in the MPs expenses scandal, but it does raise interesting questions about the suitability of people to run large organisations.
We all have a view on who is and isn’t suitable to be boss at the company we work for, but personal opinions aside, what are the really important factors in leading a company well?
Several notable companies in our industry have gone to the wall recently what is that old saying? “There are no bad businesses, just businesses that are run badly.” Consider the demands of running a business well. After strategy, finance, products, offer, marketing, service, delivery, you arrive at the toughest challenge: getting the best out of your people.
We ask a lot from our colleagues, exhorting them to deliver and perform under pressure, and demanding constant improvement we are very hard on them, often with little reward, either monetary or praise.
What is essential is that exacting bosses buy into the same principles as they apply to their team by constantly questioning and evaluating their own effectiveness and efficiency.
It is not unusual for senior management to be isolated from day-to-day issues, with middle management acting as brilliant “shock absorbers” to insulate the boardroom from shop floor problems. It is consequently always interesting when reading the financial results of retail companies to see the explanations, excuses and contrasting reasons for good or bad performance.
Many concentrate on the negatives such as: “we have focused too much abroad” “store integration disruption” “IT project over-run”. What is evident is that those struggling to maintain sales and profitability do not focus on customer-facing elements of the core business. Better-performing companies talk about new higher-end ranges, innovative fresh foods, couponing initiatives and a focus on basics. Surprise, surprise, same industry, different results.
So perhaps it is time for the people running your business to be more introspective and ask: “What can I do today to change our outlook and performance and give our staff a chance to achieve better results?”
It is always vital to analyse the company’s strengths and emphasise them continuously to reinforce confidence and self belief and turn them into “super-strengths”, and to address weaknesses to make them less visible, more manageable and less exploitable, but the place to start is always with yourself.