Money (or the love of it) is the root of all evil. Money makes the world go round. Money doesn’t grow on trees. Money is hard to come by. Money, money, money…
Every person on this planet has a relationship with money, but are you aware of what your relationship is to money? What influences your attitude towards money? Is your money story enriching or impoverishing you?
Most people don’t even think about it. Money is hardly discussed in business, and weirdly, it’s one aspect of business that people avoid like the plague. Picture this. The meeting is going great until the end, when the prospective client asks, “How much?”
How many of you, at that point, feel like sliding off your chair, hoping the ground will swell you up? Perhaps you notice the other person clamming up when they have to share the price of their product or service with you? Perhaps you’re the one who has to justify the price with all sorts of excuses, elaborating on features here, talking about promised outcomes there.
It’s enough to make you squirm, right?
Buy this product and you’ll attract the lover of your dreams. Spend six figures learning how to make a six-figure salary in six weeks. Money is abundant if you know how to attract it. Money is a scarce resource, so make sure you’re saving for a rainy day.
It becomes so all-consuming that it can drive you to becoming either a raving money-obsessed lunatic, ducking and diving to obtain more, or a money ascetic, disregarding its existence.
Whatever your thoughts, feelings or opinions are about money, there’s one thing you must acknowledge. It’s the system human beings have all agreed to use to determine value and do business with one another.
It’s the basis of business. Given this is true, why is the world of business full of people who have little to no money education at all?
For many people, it only becomes apparent that their relationship to money leaves a lot to be desired when they have to manage money for the first time. It’s easy to coast along from month to month with a salary that appears in your bank account, as if by magic, with the occasional outreaching of hands to the bank of Mum and Dad (or next-of-kin) when the account dips below a certain point.
Is it OK to be in business asserting that you’re “crap with money” or that you can’t use basic business tools like Excel to manage accounts? Would you want to place your trust in the hands of someone who hasn’t got a grasp of basic bookkeeping and accounting practices?
I certainly wouldn’t.
So it surprises me that people who desperately want to be business leaders have failed to recognise the fundamental reason for being in business — making money! Your reason for working in any environment in which money changes hands is to provide a product or service worthy of people’s investment. It does not matter if you work for a governmental organisation, a nippy little start-up or a large corporate. Your focus as a leader has got to be on the bottom line. In particular, you must be focused on delivering an appropriate value exchange.
If you’re already a leader or if you have ambitions to rise to a leadership position, ask yourself if your relationship with money is one that’s adequate enough to manage a budget on behalf of your company or clients. How will you know? Well, take a look at how you manage your own money. That will give you a BIG clue as to how equipped you are to take responsibility for the financials.
But your relationship is more than merely balancing the books. It’s about extracting value from the inputs (including yourself) and combining these inputs in a way that creates an output worthy of selling, and it's demanding the same from those from whom you buy. This is true even if your customers or suppliers are internal to your company.
Are you extracting as much value from your own input at work as possible? Are you employing all your resources wisely and consciously? What impact does your contribution have to the company’s financial status? How would you go about measuring it?
These are questions you must ask yourself as a leader. One of the ways you can gain clarity on your relationship to value and contribution is by exploring your relationship to money.
This is why it’s the first thing I tackle in my Brilliance Accelerator leadership development programme. I’ve recognised that money education is woefully lacking in education, and it’s assumed by business that you’ll absorb money wisdom through osmosis. This rarely happens!
If you’ve ever been in a sticky money situation, you’ll know just how unpleasant it is. There’s nothing like a stern letter from the bank manager, the shame of a card being refused at the till or a career-limiting mistake with a client account to make you tidy up your money attitudes and habits.
The point is not to obsess about money, but rather to be responsible for how you use money. Trust me. It’s feels empowering to have a relationship with money that leaves you feeling free and in control. That’s when you know you’re making money work for you, not the other way around.
Having been on both sides of the coin, I know where I choose to be!
As a leader, it’s critical to get your accounts in order. Andy Warhol said, “Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”
Will your business leadership be a work of art? Make money a primary colour on your palette, and watch your leadership evolve into a masterpiece of which you can be proud.
The Brilliance™ Trailblazer Ltd - Leadership for the New Millennium
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