One of the most difficult parts of serving entrepreneurial leaders is telling them a part or their entire baby (their business) is ugly. Some self proposed consulting experts say; “focus on the positives, build on successes” and not to risk their monthly retainers. I choose to ignore the obvious politically correct answers and add value by presenting market truths.
If your baby is ugly I prefer to tell you so we can develop a plan based on current truths to help lead you and your organization to a position of market leadership.
The quickest way for your baby to become ugly is to stop focusing on understanding your market, its buyers and their problems and start focusing on your growth objectives.
Last week I had dinner with my friend Graeme from the UK and he told me a joke that made me laugh, and also reflect on what it is often like to serve some organizations and their leaders.
So this guy is walking through the park and comes upon a woman with a baby stroller and she is crying. Trying to console her asks what is wrong… The young mother goes on to say that everyone says her baby is ugly and it really hurts her feelings. The stranger goes on to assure her that babies are cute and he was sure her baby was no different. The woman stopped crying and thanked him for his kind words. As he started to leave he said “Once again, I am sure your baby is not ugly…and oh, here’s a banana for your monkey”.
Having served a number of teams over the past 26 years I have experienced these integrity moments when I must share market driven truths with aggressive, entrepreneurial leaders. Often discovered truths are ugly. If the leader and his or her team is truly focused on authentically, passionately serving their market and increasing shareholder value they hear the market truths and ask me to guide them in developing a corrective roadmap.
If the leader and or their team however lack the emotional intelligence to hear constructive market driven feedback…I loose a client, and once again I am labeled a Heretic ( the person who stands up against group-think) as Art Petty discusses in his recent blog post.
I am curious…if your baby needs a banana do you want me to tell you?
Are you sure?
Do members of your team have the moral courage to give you a banana when they need to?
Have you fostered a culture that welcomes bananas?
What goal is more important to you…your ego or becoming a market leader and increasing shareholder value?
Does this describe your senior leadership team? Your owner?
When asked to serve a team that is struggling or just suck, I prefer to gather current market driven data and present the current reality. My clients pay me to help get them back on course and I must be a good steward of their investment and present market truths.