Five leadership temptations

It’s important to maintain, or at least be able to revisit, what it is that made your business special in the first place. Here are five touchstones to keep your leadership on track. NAOMI SIMSON

Naomi Simson Blog

By Naomi Simson

When you are running a tiny business, you do everything. Often you rush from urgency to urgency – with little regard for the important; working “in” the business rather than “on” it.

To grow a business is to get beyond the day to day crises – to set a clear vision and know that each day you did get one step closer to achieving that.

I presented at the Working Women’s Network this week, and as I spoke to the other business owners at the event I could hear the struggle that they were having to get beyond the immediate “to do” list.

The question I am often asked is “when did you go from being a manager of everything to a leader with vision – or are you still both?”

I am fortunate to have surrounded myself with great people who all have similar values. It was 15 months after starting RedBalloon that I became really clear about the vision of changing gifting in Australia forever. I work on the vision of the “what” now, while the general manager works on the “how”.

But the bigger RedBalloon has grown, the more I work on staying true to what we set out to do. To stay focused, and to make sure that I too stay the person that people can count on.

I came across these five “temptations of leadership”… and I think it is a sober reminder to any leader – to make sure that they stay in touch and connected with the business.

Leadership temptations

1. Invulnerability – Do you always have to be right? Allow yourself to make mistakes – which allows risk taking and gives other people the “permission” to take risks, own up to errors, but more importantly learn and grow from others’ experience.

The answer to this temptation is authenticity and credibility.

2. Popularity – When you do things to be liked rather than what is best for the business. This could be avoiding tough conversations with employees over performance or alignment. Not telling people what they need to hear.

The answer to this temptation is accountability.

3. Certainty – This is when you begin to not make decisions because you need all the facts. You become risk averse and demand endless information to support any decision making process.

The answer to the temptation of certainty is – clarity (prudent risk taking).

4. False harmony – You are more worried about people getting along than what they are delivering. Scared to offend people in meetings, so you take people aside and talk one on one – thus creating a political environment.

The answer to false harmony – focus on the “what” not the “who”.

5. Status – That is when you become hierarchical or bureaucratic, that you talk to only your direct reports, you no longer will go directly to the person who is accountable for the specific task.

The answer to status –who is the best person for the job? – just speak to them directly.


To be a leader you need to be coachable… I am so fortunate to have a great team around me – who do let me know when I am out of kilter or off on a tangent.

As a leader we cannot let anyone teach us to be stupid – that is, we must keep asking questions, and lots of them, and really embrace the answers.

“Who you are shouts so loudly I cannot hear what you say.” Emerson

I never want my people to be “no” people… I want them to feel empowered to say “yes”…. Wouldn’t we live in a different world if your people were not allowed to say “no” without management approval instead of the other way around?


Naomi is a finalist in the 2008 Australian HR Awards and the 2008 Telstra Women’s Business Awards, winners to be announced end 2008. Naomi was also a finalist for the BRW Most Admired Business Owner Award in 2008 and Marketing Employer of Choice by B&T in 2007. One of Australia’s outstanding female entrepreneurs, Naomi regularly entertains as a professional speaker inspiring middle to high-level leaders on employer branding, engagement and reward and recognition. Naomi writes a blogand has written a book sharing the lessons from her first five years.

To read more Naomi Simson blogs, click here .



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