14th November 2019

Cream of the crop or scraping the barrel?

On being a Top Boss 2

Being a boss has never been easy. Having responsibility for others is not easy. Achieving business objectives through people is not easy and I would argue that it isn’t getting any easier either. It is getting more and more difficult and more and more complicated with every passing day. But if we want to have a successful business leading people is one of the skillsets we must master.

The whole concept and practice of leadership continues to change and change at an ever-accelerating pace. When I think of some of the management practices of days gone by my toes curl. Things that were normal practice a few decades ago are not only unacceptable today but could even be illegal today, and for good reason.

Leading People 

It is precisely because people, and more importantly, their expectations have changed that our leadership style also has to change. One of the greatest consequences of change in the modern world is that thing that we call choice. Choice, in all manner of things, has exploded in recent years. As a youngster I didn’t have any choice in the school I went to mainly because my parents didn’t have any choice but today we can choose where we are educated, where we live, what we eat, what we believe, who we pledge our allegiance and loyalty to and how we lead our lives. We can even choose our gender.

Citizens of the 21st century have a high and instinctive expectation of choice. They will channel hop, tariff swap and switch allegiances in a heartbeat. If they can’t get what they want in one, or maximum two, mouse clicks they will take their attention and their custom elsewhere.


So it is in the employment scenario. People have a choice, whether to work for you, to work for someone else or not to work at all. They have that choice and they are used to exercising choice. It is now the norm. If you are not a great leader and yours is not a great place to work you can expect two things. You can expect the word to spread, and very quickly (remember people are more connected than ever before) and you can expect to lose staff when you don’t want to.

Remember that if you aren’t the employer of choice, at best you might be the employer of second choice but you may also be the employer of last choice. So instead of attracting the cream of the crop you may be left scraping the bottom of the barrel. If you are not careful you may even end up with people who choose to take your wages and yet not to work for you; in other words to stay on the payroll and disengage from the business.

The good news is that leadership is something that can be learned. And the practice of leadership is something that can be developed and is best developed through coaching.

Over the next few weeks in this blog and in my next seminar I will be examining what it means to be a top boss in a top business. If you would like to come along to Wynyard Hall Hotel on the 27th November I would be delighted to see you there.