Don Paglia | Marriage and Family Counseling. Constellations Workshops

Business Articles

“There is something tragically wrong with those who see business as un-fun. They cut off the possibility of creativity and imagination”

Well-run businesses do well in economically good times and bad times. They tend to hire more employees in either market.

The stock market is no indicator to slart a business, build up one, or exit from one.

What remains a true predictor of the strength of the business lies within the quality of the leader. Sorry if this is not good news. I happen to think it’s great news.

It means, however, that “doing business” has more to do with the leader leading than with managing well. Leaders lead people. Managers manage things. Managers might even manage with particular skills or techniques mustered together from seminars or MBA programs.

It’s not that these aren’t niceties; it’s just that they don’t mean much when the MBA laden staffer is as anxious as a loon or as spineless as a garter snake. The end result will be an anxious or spineless organization.

What distinguishes a leader of this millennium and what will they need? The same thing leaders of the past needed. Things like courage, persistence, vision, clarity and sense of humor come to mind.

The first four seem self-evident, but a sense of humor?

A sense of humor not only is an inportant dimension, but, when left out, the other characteristics won’t even get you to first base.

Isn’t business by definition serious? Don’t business leaders need to make demanding and tough decisions and, therefore, must be serious-minded by the nature of work?

No. If the leader sees the task as dreary and serious, they will undermine their success.

There is something tragically wrong with those who see business as un-fun. For starters, it means they engage in business from a reptilian perspective. They cut off the possibility of creativily and imagination.

Business people need lo be as creative andimaginative as poets, sculptors and playwrights – maybe more so. The pioblem is they often forget they are in the business of inventing and creating. They end up thinking what they are doing is real  – “the truth” – and the work takes on a seriousness, even a deadliness, that spells “d-o-o-m”.

It ends up killing the business or killing the people in the business, or both). Every business I know was something someone made up. It stalled out as an idea, often a really crazy one.

What if…?

Treat business as an experiment. Try new things. Explore. Invite. This means that mistakes will be made. Welcome them. Who doesn’t wish they were the one who made the mistake called “Post-it notes” or the mistake called “Penicillin?”

Entertain a spirit of playfulness in any and all business. Why will it work? Because I say it will. Why will it be fun? Because I say so.

Don’t bother tryiug to make a business become something. Start out now with the business being what it is to be. Five-year plans
and m.b.o.’s are great and engaging, but only if you are prepared to also enjoy the moment, and (then the next, and the next.

Have you ever wondered why more people have heart attacks on Monday mornings between the hours of 6 and 9 a.m.? Do you look foiward lo the day? If not, get in there and have some fun.

If this is not possible where you are, stop doing it. In the end, you and I die – whether we had fun or not, creating our work and our lives or believing it is out of our control. This is not dress rehearsal; we ought to be having the time of our life – the only time and life.

Great leaders know this. They take charge of their own lives and they don’t pretend they are responsible for anyone else. True leaders do this because they are not too serious. They don’t lake themselves too seriously.

Ask yourself this: How can I accomplish (the task at hand) AND have fan doing it? This question needs to permeate our actions and accomplishments. Too often, business folks think the fun comes after the accomplishment is completed. Later, I’ll get to the fun part.

Pure nonsense. Build it into the process of accomplishing that thing you call work. Playfulness and humor are essential; not luxuries. They’re non negotiables. And I’m being serious about this.

Donald Paglia is the President of Connecticut Consulting and Training.