Business is Straightforward When You Have These 4 Things – Scale Lessons from ‘Designated Survivor’
I don’t know about you, but during lockdown, Mrs N and I have become obsessed with Netflix. Our latest find was ‘Designated Survivor’.
I won’t reveal any spoilers, but in a nutshell it’s about Thomas Kirkman (played by Kiefer Sutherland), an American politician named as the designated survivor for the State of the Union address, who suddenly ascends from the position of US Secretary of Housing to President of the United States after an explosion kills everyone ahead of him in the presidential line of succession.
Kirkman has to deal with his inexperience as Head of State while looking to uncover the truth behind the attack and everything else thrown at him.
Whilst it was engaging and gripping, there were so many business lessons to learn. Today’s message is longer, but PLEASE read on as you will see how business can be SO straightforward…
He fully understands what the role requires and what his gaps are. His EQ (Emotional Intelligence) is off the scale. So, he surrounds himself with people NOT like him to provide him with an alternative view or perspective.
Kirkman lets his team know how his presidency will work – no spin or throwing people under a bus. Full transparency, lots of meetings with the American people. Showing the human side of being President, especially one with no ambitions to hold the office from a young age.
Through different storylines, he reverts to his principles, and while he takes the advice of his advisors, he does not deviate from his ultimate aim of ‘serving the American people’ even if that puts him in the firing line.
But the one thing I picked up from the whole series that rings true for me and our SCALE Model® is that by being true to his beliefs, he will not tolerate any of his advisors playing the blame game.
What I mean by this is everything that happens (and a lot does!), he will not castigate the press for finding a story that can bring down his government, or chastise foreign powers doing something against the US principles or berate a member of his opposition party who stubbornly sticks to a point even though it is counter to his thoughts and beliefs.
He respects them for sticking to their principles and ideas as long as they follow the ethical and legal framework.
He explains to his team that they are only doing their own jobs, and just because he is the President, he has no right to overrule them; he just needs to find a different way to work with them and the American people.
Yes, I know this is only a TV programme and a microcosm of the world, but having this view basically means he is response-able to every situation that comes his way.
He demonstrates that he’s learning lessons every day, cascading this philosophy to his team and opponents. Of course, every problem is different, but the way he approaches them is the same every time.
I often talk about the only problem in business is that of leadership.
Jacki and I became exhausted at the end of each episode as everything is thrown at him from all different angles. But every time he sticks to his principles, his ‘rules of the game’ and soldiers on, applying the same ‘swing’.
What I mean by ‘swing’ is most businesses tend to either make up the way they play the game every time, so it is not consistent, or they try to determine every outcome and set-up a process for it. Both are doomed to failure.
For our clients, like our Mr. President, we create a business swing. This is based on the principle of learning a golf swing.
If I was teaching you to play golf, I would show you the basics of swinging a club and then, in different situations, like bunker play, how you would change that swing in subtle ways to progress to the next stage. I would not take you to every hole on every golf course in the world and show you what you were meant to do for each position.
But that is how most business owners run their businesses – they either don’t have a swing or try to over-engineer every single situation.
Business is Straightforward When You Have These 4 Things
So, this brings me on to summarising the how Business is Straightforward When You Have These 4 Things:
1). A set of principles and beliefs that you communicate with your team and hold dear.
2). A North Star to guide you and your team in a direction, so you are all pulling in the same direction.
3). A way to work for the customer’s benefit through marketing, sales, and delivery that is consistent, informed and delivers expectations.
4). And finally, a way to improve each day and learn from the experience of the day, so the next day is more informed than the last.
This is a business that can handle anything thrown at it as it is set up correctly. It can grow, scale, and thrive in the most challenging circumstances with YOU as their leader.