What can business leaders and managers learn from watching the earnings of publicly traded companies?
"Plenty," says Kathleen Brush, a 25-year veteran of international business and author of The Power of One: You're the Boss (www.kathleenbrush.com), a guide to developing the skills necessary to become an effective, respected leader.
"When looking at the corporations reporting lower-than-expected earnings, you need to read between the lines. They are not going to admit that the reason is a failure of leadership, but 99 times out of 100 that's what it is."
She cites Oracle, the business hardware and software giant, which recently reported a quarterly revenue shortfall based on a decline in new software licenses and cloud subscriptions.
The company is "not at all pleased with our revenue growth this quarter," Oracle co-president Safra Catz told analysts. "What we really saw was a lack of urgency that we sometimes see in the sales force ..." They are pointing the finger at the employees, but they are really admitting a failure of leadership, says Brush.
"Do you know how simple it is for managers to motivate sales people? If indeed the lack of sales urgency is the problem. There are dozens of bad leader behaviors that can cause sales to decline," she explains.
In her work for companies around the country, from restructuring operations to improving profitability, Brush says she sees an epidemic of bad leader behaviors. "When I point them out, most leaders downplay, or refuse to acknowledge, the impact their behaviors are having on their bottom line. But in companies where leaders change these behaviors employees become engaged and motivated. It is really that simple to increase productivity, innovation, and the bottom line," she says.
"If you're a boss examining your own lower-than-expected performance, instead of wasting time searching for scapegoats, look in the mirror. Most bosses unwittingly exhibit bad leader behaviors daily that cause their businesses to suffer."
Here are four increasingly prevalent and damaging behaviors:
"As a manager, you wield a tremendous amount of power," she says. "You can be an incredibly negative power or a positive one who's looked up to by both peers and employees." "For the latter, bosses have to purge the bad behaviors."
Kathleen Brush has more than two decades of experience as a senior executive with global business responsibilities. She has a Ph.D. in management and international studies. Brush has been teaching, writing, and consulting on international business and leadership for companies of all sizes, public and private, foreign and domestic.
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