Want a better business? Become a better leader

Jeff Coghlan, MD of multi-award winning online branded games developer, Matmi, is currently participating in our Better Business Programme. Since starting the programme in January, Jeff has already implemented several ideas back in the business and is already reaping the benefits.

Of our Seven Pillars of a Better Business, the one that has really hit home with Jeff is Pillar 1: It’s up to YOU.  In the owner managed business, your business looks and feels the way that it does today, and it has the opportunities and the challenges that it has today, because it’s yours.  This pillar is all about recognising the impact that you have personally on your business,  retaining your passion by playing to your strengths and developing yourself as a leader and manager.  In other words, if you want a better business, you need to be a better leader and manager.

Many owner managers will be able to identify with the feeling that they are constantly on show, being watched and being scrutinised. That’s because the owner manager is the person everyone else looks to for direction, leadership and inspiration. Their mood, attitude and behaviour impact massively on the mood, attitude and behaviour of everyone else in and around the business.

Jeff Coghlan is fortunate in that he has in abundance what many owner managers long to have: the ability to inspire.

“I’m charismatic,” he says simply, without a trace of arrogance. “I’m great at getting people behind a vision.”

So, it’s not surprising that his strong personality is deeply engrained in his online game development business.

“Our business is as quirky as I am and the way I run it is very quirky,” he says.

Participating in the Better Business Programme has made him realise that there is a flipside to his idiosyncractic leadership style. “I set up a successful business - and I’ve had no formal business or management training! I’m not great at processes, organisation, how to analyse figures and how to get people with very different skills and backgrounds working as a team,” he admits.

The lack of structure, organisation and direction meant that sometimes work was being duplicated, time was being wasted and profitability wasn’t as good as it should have been.

Jeff says that stepping back from the business and having ‘time out’ has enabled him to see that he has been leading the business – but not managing it. “I thought leadership and management were the same thing. They’re not – they’re very different. I’ve realised I’m a good leader and spokesperson, and I’m a rubbish implementer and manager.”

So rather than trying to be everything to everyone, Jeff has delegated some of his responsibilities to people he trusts. “I’ve got a great team of people and some of them are better managers than I am. I don’t have a problem delegating to competent people – in fact, it’s great!” he says. He is also being more ‘hands off’ with clients, which he believes is making other members of the team more confident. A new phone and computer system and a procedure manual are also making the business run more efficiently.

Jeff is redefining his own role too, to play to his strengths. “I’m an expert in the industry and I can inspire others.  I can’t do that when I’m behind a desk firefighting.”

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