‘Meddling’ business owners hold back growth

‘Meddling’ business owners hold back growth

Entrepreneurs need to stop being “meddlers, heroes and artisans” and adopt more of a hands-off, “strategic” role so their businesses can grow, according to the Cranfield School of Management. Cranfield said “becoming a strategist is necessary for leaders to outline a vision in order to grow the business and effectively motivate employees”. Photo: © Chris Ryan / Alamy

By James Hurley

1:28PM BST 24 May 2013

Too many British business owners can’t let go of routine tasks and spend too little time managing staff and planning their organisation’s future, the business school said. Research by Cranfield, based on its work with more than 1,500 business owners, identified four common leadership styles among business leaders: ‘strategists’, ‘meddlers’, ‘heroes’ and ‘artisans’. Only a small proportion of entrepreneurs are ‘strategists’, the ideal category, Cranfield said. This group “gives their managers the tools to do their job”, leaving the business owner to carry out future planning. ‘Meddlers’ hold back the growth of their business by holding on to day-to-day management tasks. “Staff are hired to take responsibility but are not empowered to do so and the boss isn’t making time to plan,” Cranfield said.So called ‘hero’ business owners head up a key management function such as sales or production.

“They are often seen as a hero as they are the only person who really understands management policies – so [they seem] to excel.”

In reality, they are failing to take full oversight of the business or plan for the future.

‘Artisans’, meanwhile, spend most of their time producing a product or delivering a service. “They often remain ‘one of the gang’, with little authority or future planning taking place.”

Professor Andrew Burke of Cranfield said: “In our experience the majority of owner-managers are characterised as artisans, heroes or meddlers, with only a small proportion naturally achieving the ideal ‘strategist’ role. Becoming a strategist is necessary for leaders to outline a vision in order to grow the business and effectively motivate employees.”

A survey by the National Business Awards found that one in ten business owners have done nothing to improve their leadership style.

However, 93pc of entrepreneurs said they would consider changing their leadership style to “boost business, morale and productivity”.

Jon Thornes, founder of Cool Milk, which supplies milk to schools, said changing his approach to management has been “key in realising growth from 60,000 to 800,000 customers”.

“I now work on the business instead of in the business,” he said. “Initially, this involved replacing myself as managing director and then as chairman. I now employ people better than myself and hold them to account for my vision, by letting them develop their team and get on with producing the results.”

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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