Look at the mirror

BUSINESS MATTERS BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - June 13, 2021 - 12:00am

A businessman friend wanted to know how I may be of help. He has problems with his business; he says his company is not growing (this was pre-COVID), his people are slow and dumb, department heads fight all the time. And so, he asks me: “What’s their problem, and what can you do to help?”

After asking diagnostic questions, I apologized and told him I could not help. And he wanted to know why and because he is a friend of mine, I did not mince words but said, “You are the problem!”

Without getting much into the detail, he felt terrible about what I said. He muttered something like: “Is my money not good enough for Francis, and only those big corporate clients of his are important to him but not me?” He said through a friend, which is a confirmation that he indeed was the problem.

Many leaders refuse to accept that they are the problem. Either they have not looked at the mirror for a long time, or that their mirror is so blurred and covered with the dirt of self-aggrandizement or flattery of people around such that he or she cannot see clearly.

I have warned leaders: “The higher you are in the organization, the more filtered the information reaching you. The things you get to hear are usually filtered and managed.”

And then there are the successful leaders who would habitually look into the mirror and ask hard questions like: “What is it about me that I need to improve?” These are the ones who keep on growing.

My businessman friend complained about why ideas and execution take forever to do. The company is riddled with bureaucracy. There is a lot more “blame-storming” rather than brainstorming taking place in his organization. My response is: “Well, who allowed it to happen in the first place? Are you not the leader?”

Believe me when I say that most leaders do not want to believe that they are the problem. And the mirror is the last place they will look at, and when those rare moments of reflection and introspection happen, they quickly parry it with distractions or reason to themselves that admitting mistakes is a sign of weakness. The business slows down, loses its competitive edge, gets clobbered by the competition, and leaves the leader with a deflated ego, and nobody wins in this situation except the competition.

So, you are not the owner of the business? The same principle applies. You need to remember. The higher you climb up the corporate ladder and occupy higher positions in your organizational hierarchy, the further you have to fall when you self-destruct. And what helps you in your downfall is the none-stop, non-sleeping 24/7 social media and camera totting public that is there to shoot you, document the things you say for the world to see. They will have their vendetta and increase in their “likes” and “following” too. And yes, one more thing – digital never forgets and fades away.

Here are some practical things you may want to do to stay away from self-inflicted troubles:

1. When you have issues with someone before you blow up, lose your temper, or begin to vent through other people or rant on your social media pages, take some time to look at the mirror and figure out the possibility that you are wrong. You need to apologize and make things right.

2. Keep quiet and refuse the temptation to speak when the emotions are high. It does not hurt to be quiet, to observe, and to listen. You may be learning something, and this gives you space to carefully plan out your response and your course of action.

3. Now I am huge on this one. Read. Reread and perhaps reread before you click “send.” Better to sleep on it before you post. Remember that anything controversial and inflammatory would spread faster than the virus with the new variant, so when you sleep on it, chances are in the morning when things have cooled down, you won’t.

Remember. Talks, words, tweets, posts can be very expensive, and once they are out, it is hard to retrieve them, and any effort to explain them away is immediately perceived to be “cheap excuses” for the offenses done. Just consider this: There’s a generation of children who will discover all the terrible things their parents wrote online. It is always good to look at the mirror from time to time.



(Francis Kong’s highly acclaimed Level Up Leadership Master Class Online will run this June 22-24, 2021. Develop your leadership skills that translate into personal, career, and business growth. For inquiries and reservations, contact April at +63928-559-1798 or and for more information, visit www.levelupleadership.ph)

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