One of the biggest things driving business failure is ‘beige’ leadership. I’m sure you know the executives I mean. They have the title, the business card, maybe even the corner office (if in fact they still exist) – but just because they ‘own’ all this doesn’t necessarily mean they have the ability to lead with effectiveness and energy – in fact, they are quite often simply ‘beige’.
Beige leaders. What do I mean by this? They are those who are complacent in their role of ‘superiority’. They are accepting of traditional methods, and the way things have always been done. They are the ones who don’t even entertain embracing change and are definitely closed to creating any kind of freedom for new ideas and creative thinking.
Beige leaders are blind. They lack vision and foresight, and are consequently unable to inspire others.
They are the ‘know-it alls’, the ‘it’s how we do it around here, so shape up or ship out‘, the ‘it’s my way or the highway’. They have already learnt all they want to learn – and it’s often at a very surface level; their curiosity for what could possibly be is exhausted and as for what the future generations can bring to the work place?
Well… “it was far better in my day!”
Beige leaders sit comfortably in the squishy status quo sofa (also beige), often more concerned with survival than growth. And they have become so ingrained in their comfy corner of the management couch that they forget about the customer. They are often seen by the customer, or lower management and personnel as egotistical and arrogant. Empathy, humility, vulnerability and personal disclosure – they themselves see them as a sign of weakness, because this is what they were taught.
Beige leaders lead beige companies, and guess what? It’s a self-propagating disaster.
Beige companies find it difficult to compete.
Beige companies lose customers.
Beige companies struggle to attract, recruit and retain talent.
Beige companies fail to stop their own decline, and thus fail to future proof the company.
To remain relevant in tomorrow’s world, the beige ‘leader’ (and I use this term advisedly), in whatever format, needs to be erased. In its place we need authentic leadership capable of amplifying others, commercial collaboration to drive change and innovation, and a culture of freedom to think, have an opinion, for people to be heard and to listen.
The future is unknown. As Marshall Goldsmith shared –
“What got you here won’t get you there”
But one thing is for certain.
Beige won’t cut it anymore.
Maybe not even in your home furnishings.
Certainly not in your business leaders.