Control those dominos

Every business owner comes with ‘beliefs’, which result in ‘behaviour’, which leads to ‘outcomes’. Keep this in mind before you push the first domino…


Pollyanna Lenkic

When I built my company in London in my 20s, I had the emotional intelligence of a toad. Now, I can look back and see what I would do differently the second time round. 


One day, one of our sales consultants, I’ll call him John, screwed up on an account. My instinct was that as the expert I needed to take over and handle the situation.


I can still recall the deflated look as John handed over the phone so I could take over and fix it and manage the account. After all, this was my area of expertise – or so I thought.


Well, there were outcomes, as you would expect.


  1. John felt incredibly disempowered, deflated and embarrassed.
  2. John was very p….off and resigned.
  3. John stole our database.
  4. We lost the client.


At the time, I’m sure I didn’t link these outcomes to my actions. Self deception is a great place to hide.


How often do we deceive ourselves as leaders and make it someone else’s fault?


Looking through my eyes now, with the experience and awareness I now have, I can say with utmost certainty that John didn’t have the chance to grow in the company at the time. Yes, I was very young and I did grow and learn, some lessons took longer than others, some had lesser consequences, others had more.


With proper investment, mentoring, coaching and training, John would have had the opportunity to thrive in our business. I may have gained a valued member of our team who felt invested in, trusted and gave their all. It could have been a wholly different outcome.


The reason for sharing this story with you is to get you to think about how, as a business owner, you take responsibility for your behaviour and how you develop, mentor and coach your people.


Who is in your team that needs your help and time so they can grow?


Our business is our baby and sometimes we stunt its growth by holding on too tight, engaging in behaviours linked to beliefs we hold, which definitely have outcomes, and not always the outcomes we want.


It’s often challenging for us to change our beliefs and behaviours overnight. First we need to identify what our beliefs are, what are the behaviours that are associated with those beliefs, and what are the outcomes of those behaviours.


So looking at the case study with John, it looks like this:

I am the only person who can do this; I must take control of the account. I am the expert in this area and no one else can work in this space.


Insensitive, rash, bullish, demeaning.


Disempowered John left the company, stole our database, and we lost the client. Limiting the development of anyone else in the company in that area resulting in me being overwhelmed with work – which meant I was always the last to leave the office, for which I became resentful.


If you see yourself here, know that all is not lost. With a bit a reflection, self honesty and courage you can change your behaviours, which will affect your outcomes and shift your beliefs to a more productive and positive place.


A great book, a must read for anyone in relationship with people (that’s everyone) is Leadership and Self Deception by the Arbinger Institute ( Get a copy for yourself and everyone that works for you.





Pollyanna Lenkic is an experienced facilitator, certified coach and a certified practitioner of NLP. In 1990 she co-founded a specialist IT recruitment consultancy in London, which grew to employ 18 people and turnover £11 million ($27 million). This blog is about the mistakes she made and the lessons she learned building a business the first time round and how to do it better second time round.






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