Blog > Victoria Brown CFO: Leadership and the ‘do as I do’ Paradigm

Victoria Brown CFO: Leadership and the ‘do as I do’ Paradigm

17 January 2022 by CustomSolar

Currently, the national and regional news is full of poor behavior by the highest levels of our government and civil service, the very people tasked with making our rules apparently assuming that they don’t have to follow them.

Don’t worry, as personally horrified as I am by our political leadership, that’s not what this post is about. I’m looking much closer to home, are we as business leaders in danger of falling into the same sorry state?

We make the rules in our own businesses, create, and develop processes and procedures for the smooth efficient running of our respective companies, ensure that there are checks and balances in place to mitigate risks, set expectations on behaviors, and attempt to build a strong positive culture.

These are the basics of running a business, but what is critical is that we lead by example. Anyone who has negotiated with a child knows that you have basically lost as soon as you fall back on the “do as I say, not as I do” argument, and kids are great at calling us out on our own fibs. Please don’t assume that just because your employees have more finely developed social skills and wouldn’t necessarily overtly challenge your behaviors, they haven’t noticed discrepancies between what you say and what you do.

As soon as you disregard a “rule” two things happen; firstly, everyone disregards that rule, perhaps not completely, but it’s certainly lower on the list; secondly you have reduced your own integrity, so any rules you have implemented are automatically considered more fluid than before. It’s the start of a slippery slope.

It should be simple to follow your own rules, you made them, right? But it’s not always easy, so it’s important to stand back and check yourself if you find that you are bending them to suit your own agenda. You may actually find that the rules no longer fit the situation and should be changed for everyone, working from home rules are certainly more relaxed now than ever before, and being results-focused rather than time-focused is often a very positive change for a company.  But it’s rare that you really are an exception to the rule.

Strong boards will automatically challenge one another, keeping the board “honest”, but smaller companies with only one or two individuals at the helm may need to work harder, perhaps activity encouraging members of staff to speak up if they feel there are double standards creeping in, bring in a Non-Exec Director or use a trusted advisor.

So, if the purchase order process applies to everyone but you, if your finance staff sigh when you pass a load of receipts over rather than fill in an expenses form if everyone is expected to be back in the office between 9 and 5, but you are still working from home, just try looking at it from a different perspective, does it look fair and reasonable? Are you asking more of others than you are prepared to give yourself?

Be honest, be fair, and lead from the front.

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