Fish Stink From the Head

ETE REMAN’s founder, Sam Loshak, is known for his many insightful and pithy statements. In fact, we’ve come to dub his statements “Sam-isms.”

One of Sam’s most frequent reminders to ETE’s leadership is “fish stink from the head.” What Sam means is that the worst smelling part of a dead fish is its head. But what Sam really means is that most problems within a company can be traced back to its leadership. Since you’re reading this, odds are that you’re a leader within your company. Odds are, I’m talking about (and to) YOU.

When you’re evaluating a problem within your business, it’s easy to blame everyone around you. It’s easy to point your finger at your builder, at your manager, at your assistant…pretty much at anyone. The hardest thing is to ask (and answer) why the problem truly exists. Often, your employees’ actions are a symptom of a greater problem. And, often, that greater problem is, well, you.

I’ll clarify:

Your people are a reflection of you.
Your people are a reflection of your work ethic.
Your people are a reflection of your attitude.
Your people are a reflection of your encouragement (or discouragement).
Your people are a reflection of your example.

You may not realize it, but you’re being watched. Your employees look at you, they look to you, and (sometimes) they look up to you. No matter how they feel about you, however, they emulate you. You set the standard.

Don’t tell them what to do, show them how it’s done.

Ask yourself:

  • “How’s my attitude?”
  • “How do I react to stressful situations?”
  • “How do I treat customers?”
  • “Do I always get to work on time?”
  • “Do I follow my own rules and policies?”
  • “How often do I praise my employees for doing things right?”
  • “Do I always deliver on my promises?”
  • “How well do I listen to my employees?”
  • “Have I provided my employees with adequate training – both in technical skills and personal development skills?”
  • “Am I living (and leading) by example?”

Those are tough questions. Well, actually they’re easy questions that result in tough answers and tough work should you need to make changes in yourself. But the results are worth it.

The bottom line: Be who and what you want your employees to be.

Bonus questions: If you were your own employee, how would you stack up? Would you hire you? Would you fire you?

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