I have just finished reading a book called Man for our Time, by Ian Hunter. It’s about the founder of Farmers, Robert Laidlaw. I can highly recommend it. I read it to get a glimpse into the life of a New Zealand retailing legend. One of the things Laidlaw said that’s got me thinking was, “the owner of a business casts a long shadow”.
In other words, the culture of a business is a direct reflection of its leader. I find this very challenging.
When I look at my pharmacy I see that everything that happens there is an extension of me – whether I intend it to be or not. So if my team are kind to our customers, it’s because I am kind to my team. If my team value hard work and integrity, it’s because I also value these things. Conversely, if I can’t be bothered to give my best every day, then how can I expect my team to? I have to be aware of the shadow I cast. I have to walk the talk.
However, I think it could go deeper than that. My crew see me at my best and at my worst. The things I don’t say are part of character. Subconsciously, the unsaid things could have the biggest influence. And those are things you can’t put on.
Leading by example isn’t an easy task. I need to always practise what I preach and be mindful of my actions. I need to be self-aware, and recognise both my limits and my strengths, learn from my mistakes, and seek ongoing feedback.
As a business leader, I have to watch my life closely, and make sure that everything aligns if I want my business values to culminate in the best experience for our customers, suppliers, and supporters.
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