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Does your management team share your vision for your business? And how can you tell? In this blog I explore the importance of vision in leadership and challenges of forging a united leadership structure.

Our latest research found that there is a problematic disconnect between business owners and their management team.

Most senior managers see themselves as fully aligned team players. Four-fifths (83%) of top executives are under the impression that they understand the business owner’s goals. And an even larger proportion (87%) are confident they would be trusted to run the firm in the owner’s absence.

Unfortunately, business owners don’t agree.

Lack of trust

According to our research, 42% of owner managers believe their firm wouldn’t survive beyond a single week without them.

Even among businesses with a full, formal management team, only 60% believe that they really have the full support of their senior people. Management teams don’t just face a lack of trust – they don’t even know the trust doesn’t exist.

Some owners may have real grounds for doubt. Many management teams and business partners lack experience. Over half are growing a business for the first time.

Left in the dark

On the other hand, it’s not surprising that managers are in the dark – because many SME owners aren’t sharing their concerns. Over half (52%) say it’s important they don’t show vulnerability to their leadership team.

This lack of trust and honesty only serves to sideline their senior managers. They’re unable to take on more of the day-to-day running of the company and take the pressure off owners. That matters because it leaves owners with less time to think and plan strategically – which, in turn, prevents them from reaching their growth ambitions.

Indeed, owners who are able to step back and focus on strategic business planning are twice as likely to build fast-growth businesses. Sadly, these strategy-focused leaders are a small minority – fewer than 10%.

Tough decisions

Business owners need to release their grip and allow senior managers to step up. And where teams truly lack experience or skills, some tough decisions might need to be made. The first step is to make an honest assessment of your team’s capability, and then act to close any gaps and weaknesses.

It’s equally important to present a firm leadership style, such as clearly articulating a vision for the business that everyone can unite behind.

SME owners who develop a strong team, focused on shared goals, will be freed up to think more strategically about their business ambitions.

5 steps to a united team

1. Assess your top people: Identify weaknesses in the management team and work with them to develop skills – and bring in new talent if needed.

2. Practise honesty: Spell out your long-term business vision – and your concerns. Your team will work better when they know the full picture.

3. Learn to let go: No business owner should be indispensable to day-to-day operations.

4. Delegate responsibility: That means giving your top team freedom and accountability.

5. Think strategy: Devote your time to strategic planning as much as possible – it’s the proven way to faster growth.

Shared vision in leadership?

Owners need to take the initiative, involve senior managers in the strategic planning process, share their fears and create a shared vision in leadership – and then hold their teams to account for taking the business forward.

So, what is your vision for the future?


Find and contact your local Haines Watts office

About the author

Alexandra Marriott

Alexandra’s role is two-fold; she partners with CEOs, executives and owner-managed businesses to align their people strategy with their business strategy. With her team, she has a relentless focus on any given destination with the aim of reaching it in the smartest, most commercial and economical way. She’s also a member of the Haines Watts (SEM) Board, where she leads the development and implementation of people strategy, aimed at building and retaining high performing individuals.

Earning her stripes in the motor, retail-leisure sectors and IT managed service environment, Alexandra worked across a portfolio of owner managed businesses and international finance houses, designing solutions that enabled each business to thrive. Taking a gamble in 2010, she set up her own HR consultancy which allowed her to bring her own business ideas to life. This facilitated her joining Haines Watts in 2016, bringing her portfolio and team along with her. After 2 decades in the industry, as a qualified HR professional, she continues to prove that HR is an asset.

Alexandra’s solution-focused, often inspiring others to better themselves and is a strong influencer within the business, pushing fellow board members to make smart people decisions. Recently, having become a mother, she’s now thriving from the challenge of balancing both her career aspirations and family life.

“I love spending time with my ‘partner in crime’ (Peter!), whether this be trying out new restaurants, planning holidays, or just relaxing and having a laugh together. I’m passionate about being fit and strong, both physically and mentally. Regardless of what life throws at me, I ensure I take time out to plug in some music, lift some weights or go for a bike ride.”

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