In the near future the difference between winning and losing in DeathCare will be a result of one factor: LEADERSHIP. Yet many owners and general managers are confusing supervision with leadership and are in danger of turning themselves into nothing more than shop foremen.
Too many funeral home owners blame their staff for the lack of progress in their business. Yes the staff can often a barrier to progress. But, frankly it is really not their fault. It is the fault of the passive aggressive cultures that prevail in this profession…including and probably most especially the owners.
A Dysfunctional Culture is something YOU allow because of your cowardice or laziness not because you can’t change it.
What is a passive aggressive culture? In a classic article titled The Passive Aggressive Organization it is defined as:
“… a place where more energy is put into thwarting things than starting them, but in the nicest way.”
What does this mean?
Where does the blame lie? The list is long…and in light of the urgency of our problems mostly meaningless. For now let’s just say that there are few, if any, good leadership models in the profession. Most owners and managers confuse supervision with leadership. And the recent trend toward installing staff performance systems underscores this in spades. Yes, these systems are necessary in any business. After all would a ship leave port without a compass? But the lack of true leadership skills ends up turning owners and general managers into shop foremen and the model begins to look too much like a manufacturing plant than a service profession.
What is the difference between supervision and leadership?
Think of it this way:
You Manage A Business…
You Lead People.
Supervision is a management function and much easier to grasp because you measure, track and compare. How was Joe’s average sale vs. Bill’s? How much time does Jill take to make arrangements vs. Doug? What is the Bob’s family satisfaction score compared to John’s? Then, of course, you can hold it over people’s heads. Supervision is very useful when working with people who don’t have to think (or shouldn’t) and when you need them to focus on components of a task rather than the bigger picture. But supervision doesn’t motivate. Supervision doesn’t engage and it certainly doesn’t build loyalty
Leadership, on the other hand, is much harder work…and riskier too. It means you have to be aware of where you are going as much or more as where you are. It means that you have to be conscious of and teach and defend slippery things like core values and brand integrity. You have to build character and give latitude for autonomous decision making because people know what is expected no matter what the odd circumstance. It means YOU must be responsible for:
Making the Main Thing The Main Thing
Which means you have to know what the MAIN THING is AND you HAVE TO BE THERE. Not just in your office but with the people…Observing, Coaching, Fixing, Guiding, Changing, Planning…AND OCCASIONALLY CONFRONTING.
Not many years ago a senior executive with one of the major casket companies asked me what I thought most funeral home owners wanted. Without thinking I heard myself say,
“They want not to be there.”
Where did that come from?
I was totally surprised and, at first, he was confused. But as I thought about it I realized that I had observed such consistent behavior among owners across so many firms that I naturally drew the conclusion that their preference would be to be someplace else.
GOOD LEADERSHIP IN SMALL BUSINESS
REQUIRES YOU TO BE PRESENT TO WIN
The Good News
Leadership…true leadership…is something you learn through experience and mentoring. In fact, it is the part of my funeral home consulting practice I enjoy the most. Leaders grow into the position. They are not born.
Leading a healthy culture is not only much more fun FOR EVERYONE, but it creates a significant competitive advantage in the market place as well.
TUNE IN TOMORROW. I HAVE A VERY SPECIAL TREAT: A VIVID ILLUSTRATION THAT WILL DEMONSTRATE THE DIFFER-ENCE BETWEEN BEING A SUPERVISOR AND A LEADER.