Guest blog: A leader leads by example, whether he intends to or not

I happened to catch an article last week, which served as a timely reminder of the quote above. Applied to my work, this is something I find myself talking about a lot, particularly in the GP Federations and Super Practices we support.  However, this relates to all my work, whether it’s hubs of 30,000 to 50,000, MCP, PACS or ACS; the same applies.

Those leading the organisation do so by example, sometimes that is not an intended example, but it is an example non the less.

In effect, if you want others to follow your example you should be the first to do whatever it is you are asking of everyone else. If there is a programme to implement, the Federation Board should demonstrate the benefit of the changes: you cannot ask others to do what you are not prepared to do yourself.

Equally, I would always challenge anyone not prepared to take their own advice, or where they have no track record of delivery or achievement. If you stop and think for a moment, most businesses hire on the basis of accomplishment, achievement and delivery. They appoint people to roles that build upon stellar performance and credentials in the expectation of that delivery continuing and improving. They look for continued growth of the individual in the new role, based upon their performance to date.

This should apply to GP Federations, Super Practices, hubs of 30,000 to 50,000, MCP, PACS or ACS. When appointing anyone in to senior leadership roles I encourage you to explore the credentials of delivery and outcomes. Are the people you appoint able to deliver what’s required? Can they demonstrate the accomplishment of achievement, outcomes and progress? If not, I would stop and think again.

Still in doubt? Then let’s explore examples from my work, where my focus lies on creating business-ready organisations.

Business-ready, requires leaders that understand the concept that turnover is vanity, profit is sanity, but cash is king! Put simply, there is no point in generating turnover that you cannot make a profit on, and if you don’t remain profitable and keep the cash coming in to your company, disaster looms.

For me there can be no loss-leaders when establishing the company, as this comes straight out of shareholder investments and can quickly put your company at risk of failure. Every project needs to be costed and funded properly. Additionally, you cannot negotiate on price, only ever on workload. If it costs “too much” what can you remove from the process to bring the cost down? This is a business and needs to be managed as such.

Please keep in mind, even not for profit organisations need to deliver a profit to reinvest in the projects they wish to support. Not for loss is the place to start; both for profit and not for profit organisations have this as a start point – you need a profit to stay in business.

In terms of a newly formed Federation/Super Practice, Hub, MCP, PACS or ACS, you need profitable turnover which delivers the income that pays the board and workforce, covers the company expenses and provides cash flow to allow you to continue to develop.

Now, I can hear people saying I’m teaching Granny to suck eggs here, and to an extent I am.  However, I regularly see potential disasters looming large, where people have not costed business plans and proposals with anything other than the money to pay the people providing the service. No running costs, no management allowance, nothing to cover superannuation and tax; I could go on, but you get the picture. The issue at play is a focus on turnover.

Leaders lead by example, therefore when you are appointing your leaders take the time to look at their track record, take the time to look at their results and you will know what to expect going forwards, as invariably leopards don’t change their spots. What’s gone before is likely to be seen again in future. Are those results the type you want to see in your organisation? Is there a strong vision that has become the reality and culture of the way the company works? Is the organisation a dynamic, vibrant, thriving, sustainable model, or are you dealing with someone who led the previous organisation to the brink of disaster and now believes redesigning and developing a new organisation will resolve those issues?

The next time you have people coming forward to lead the development of a new organisation, look at their previous results. Whether intended or not people lead by example. Is that an example you wish to follow, or is it time to look again at who is leading you?

Scott McKenzie is director at Scott McKenzie Consultancy.