I've just been re-reading Jim Collin's book Good to Great (I often read a book 2-3 times - maybe I'm a slow learner but I seem to learn or see more the second or third time round!). Collins examines what takes a company from good to great – or more specifically identifies the leadership styles that contribute to the difference. Anyway, in it he quotes Fred Purdue, an executive at Pitney Bowes, who said, “when you turn over rocks and look at all the squiggly things underneath, you can either put the rock down, or you can say, my job is to turn over rocks and look at the squiggly things, even if what you see can scare the hell out of you”.

It's easier (in the short term!) to just put the rock down and hope all the squiggly things will just go away (and for squiggly things insert your own 'squigglys' – team dysfunction, budget blow-outs, under-performing staff, a poor relationship with your boss, unresolved conflict between staff, a colleague driving you to distraction, etc, etc, etc) Squiggly's rarely go away though – they are usually busy breeding under the rock!

Yes, lifting the rock can be scary...but ignoring what's under it is so much more damaging in the long run. Believe me I know, there have been times when not only have I put the rock firmly back, I've gone and got bigger rocks to put on the top of it! And the squigglys just grew!

Be brave – leaders lift the rocks both at work and at home and take a good long look at what's underneath. And if you find some squigglys start working with them while they are small – before they breed!

So ask yourself.....

  • what 'squigglys' are you trying to ignore?

  • are you having the conversations that really matter?

  • who could you talk with to get support / advice on dealing with the squigglys?


Our lives improve when we take chances – and the first and
most difficult risk we can take is to be honest with ourselves”
Walter Anderson

Share This Article

What would a leader do?

Learning without changing

Sir Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626) said “ipsa scientia potestas est” or “knowledge itself is power”. He may have been a famous philosopher, statesman, scientist and author, but I have to respectfully disagree! 


Read More

Subscribe: Sign up to receive news and updates