“Sir Philip Green is fast becoming the UK’s most controversial businessman, with a history of claims of abusing staff, joking about drugs and accusations he stole millions from the BHS pension pot.” The Sun

In today’s world, small business owners mostly operate at the opposite end of the spectrum and are the antithesis of what is portrayed in the headlines.

Within the average small business, the owner(s) care deeply about their businesses.  Working closely with both staff and suppliers, small business leaders tend to operate in a highly emotional and passionate way – giving their all to their enterprise.

Mirror, Mirror on The Wall: Who Is the Fairest Business Owner of Them All?

The relationship between a typical small business owner and their enterprise can be described as being like that of a ‘parent-child’ relationship. Clearly from a moral perspective, this is a much better place to be than the cold ‘evil step-parents’ style of ownership featured in the news.   Yet small business ownership and leadership style is frequently tinged with a level of benevolence, personal passion and sacrifice verging on masochism or even self-harm, an operational style that can be described as running hot.

Too often:

  • Poorly performing staff are carried
  • Divisive staff members with bad attitudes are tolerated
  • Poor recruitment or redeployment leads to the round pegs in square holes with staff members in the wrong roles leading to dissatisfaction for both employer an employee
  • Key buying decisions which impact on profitability and quality are made due to relationships / emotion without enough scrutiny or objectivity
  • Poor profitability is accommodated for too long in the hope of an ill-conceived big pay out at some future point, but with no real plan of how or when this will be achieved
  • The owner fails to let go of many aspects of the business operation that would be better delegated to others
  • Owners of “life-style” businesses have anything but an enviable life style
  • The mental health and wellbeing of the business owner are intrinsically connected to the fate of the business and the business cannot function without the owner.

Is your Leadership and ownership style Too Hot and hands on or Too Cold and clinical?

So, who has got it right?  Clinical, highly objective big business leaders operating for maximum profit and self-interest – running cold.  Or small business owners who often find themselves servants of their own enterprises, staff and customers with insufficient reward and too much stress – running hot.

The answer lies in the sweet “Goldilocks” spot.  Neither too hot or too cold.  The middle ground between these 2 polar positions; an ownership mentality and management style that is both morally decent, whilst at the same sufficiently objective and decisive.

Go through the list above and score each one out of ten for your own management style. If you scored higher than a 5 / 10 on any of the points its time to take stock and reflect on the impact that this behaviour or way of managing is having on your small business.

We’d love to hear how you get on and what actions you take as a result.