Insight / Opinion

Carillion – killing a company is a team effort.

Never too big to fail, they say. After the shock of hearing the news, it was striking to see how much of the demise of the giant was attributed to the top decision-makers.

But killing a company is very much a team effort.

Surely employees must have known that things weren’t going too well. Even the general public knew that things were problematic simply by reading the press. Several years ago, the papers were already highlighting issues.

I can imagine people at the coffee machine or the water cooler complaining and venting their frustrations amongst themselves, and then going back to their desk and carrying on as usual, surrendering to the absurd.

At the Leadership Trust, we believe that leadership skills need to be developed throughout the entire company. Leadership isn’t exclusive to the senior management and the board room.

Leadership is “using one’s personal power to win hearts and minds to achieve a common purpose”. This applies as much to the CEO of the company as it applies to the assistant in the operations department who notices that this process doesn’t work or this way of doing things could be improved… or whichever of the hundreds of issues which amalgamated to provoke the fall of the giant.

Were all employees at Carillion aware that they had such a thing as personal power? Did they know how to win hearts and minds? Did they know what the common purpose was?

There are very certainly some strategy reasons behind the demise of the beast, and other technical/legal/operational reasons, and there are people reasons too. As much as the Board ultimately has the responsibility, it is everyone’s daily responsibility to ensure the health of the organisation. And for everyone to take that responsibility, care and effort is required to ensure that they can.


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