One of the things that I know I must say often is, “Leadership Systems is pretty picky about the clients it takes on.” How do I know I say this? People I talk to tend to remind me that I’ve said it. Now, I don’t mean it from the perspective of us looking down our noses at another organization. Quite the opposite is true. We will spend quite a bit of time looking at a potential client organization to determine if they would be ready to handle having us partner with them on their development and improvement.
So, to be clear, we look at a number of variables when determining if we’ll take on a client. We look at their industry. We look at the culture that has formed within the organization. We look at the strategy the organization has adopted to bring them down the road to success. And, we look at organizational readiness.
Readiness, for us, is simply the capacity for the organization to do what it takes to be successful at achieving the goals we were brought in to facilitate. For example, we frequently talk to organizations that speak of debilitating elements in their culture or the limiting abilities of management to bring them beyond the ceiling they’ve reached. Sometimes, in this scenario, the people we are talking to are adamant about prescribing their own cure and having us administer it. If we can look at the cure and see success, then that is a knowledgeable potential client for whom we will work diligently to form a relationship. Often, though, we can easily see the many pitfalls the prescribed solution contains. If the potential client insists on mixing poison with the cure, for their own good as well as ours, we will decline to be the administers of that concoction.
Organizational readiness happens when a potential client that knows it needs some outside assistance, is willing to work with a professional organization like ours to mutually agree on what the root problem is and what the solution looks like, and is willing to help remove obstacles for its people to make the solution happen.
Readiness is a key component. Without it failure is almost certain, close behind it comes the blame game. For doctors, an ill patient that is unwilling to participate fully in their own recuperative process is a patient that might not ever get better or is at risk for a devastating relapse.
Our business is making things better. So, yes, we are not ashamed to say that we’ve turned down business because of a lack of organizational readiness on behalf of the potential client. It’s not a bragging point and it certainly isn’t meant to be offensive, but it undeniably is in everyone’s best interest that we’re willing to do so.