A lack of leadership is one of the biggest weaknesses of most companies and an area that must be addressed in order for SMEs to thrive, business consultant Barry Walsh tells Lorraine O’Hanlon
The real role of a manager and a leader is understanding how people work together, in addition to motivating and inspiring them.
That’s according to Kinvara-based specialist in SME strategy and management development Barry Walsh, who believes that leadership development is key to the success of a company.
“It’s probably the biggest weakness of most businesses, not just Irish businesses. And when I say leadership I don’t mean just the leader, I mean distributed leadership throughout the organisation,” says the MD of The People Development Co. Ltd.
Mr Walsh will address this topic, amongst others, at a free seminar facilitated by the Business Motivation Group at the Clayton Hotel on Tuesday 25 September at 10am.
With 14 years’ experience as a consultant focusing on strategic planning and implementation, the Athlone native has observed that, over time, many SME owners and particularly owner-managers tend to become distant from their customers over time.
“The leader’s job is to be in very close contact with the marketplace, looking at the customers, and then secondly competitors,” he says, stressing that companies need to be aware of what the competition can offer their customers.
Entrepreneurs can also lose the passion they once had for their business, a passion that Mr Walsh aims to bring back.
Next week’s interactive talk on the topic ‘Business from the Heart’ will particularly focus on what he calls “the heart centre of intelligence” and on how and why business owners should get in touch with what their heart is telling them to do, and when to do it.
“Obviously, we need to work from our heads, but I’m finding too many people are working too much from their heads and they’re not working enough from their heart and from their gut, their intellect,” he says. “We build up so much wisdom over the years, we tend to kind of put in a drawer and forget about it, we don’t trust it,” he says.
Urging those entrepreneurs who “may want to reignite their fire” to attend next week’s event, he says it will also be helpful for those who are setting out who don’t want to make the mistakes that others may have made.
In particular, Mr Walsh will be advising attendees to “get on purpose” in terms of what they are doing as an individual and as a business.
“One of the things I will be doing is helping them to discover what their purpose is, or what it was, and revisit it and what their purpose is as an individual and how does that align with the purpose of the business,” he says, adding that attendees will go away with “renewed sense of purpose”.
Having worked with some of the fastest growing companies in Ireland, Mr Walsh feels that SMEs must focus on two key things both internally and externally.
Internally, they must be ‘lean’ and generate ideas. “Ideas are the fuel for innovation, but, without some energy, there’s no action, so ideas plus energy equals change,” he explains.
Citing former client City Bin Co. as an example of a lean and innovative company that engages effectively with customers, he points to their extensive online testimonial site – www.citybin.com/wow – as a demonstration of their “real passion for customer service”.
Externally, companies must really know their customers and competitors, according to Mr Walsh, who refers to insulation company Kingspan as a business with a “relentless focus on really knowing their customers and competitors”.
Adding that SMEs must focus on their customers’ needs and their ‘affordabilities’, particularly given the current global downturn in consumer demand, he says, “A lot of the agenda should be set from what’s going on in the marketplace with the customer.”
Mr Walsh will speak at a free seminar at the Clayton Hotel on Tuesday 25 September at 10am. For more details on Barry Walsh, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.barrywalsh.ie. For more details on the Business Motivation Group, which aims to support, motivate and inspire SMEs, visit www.businessmotivationgroup.com.