13 Actions That Degrade Business Performance

The role of leadership is to bring the forefront the combined talent and effort of every person who works within and with their business. In this lies competitive strength and business performance. And often, the starting point to improving that strength and performance is to remove all the barriers that prevent people from working at their best.


Active Knowledge Question:

If you were asked to remove barriers to performance in your business, where would you start?


Recognising Barriers To Performance

There are barriers that exist within your business that can and will:

  • Stop your business from moving forward.
  • Cause you to miss the turn off that everyone else took.
  • Blind you from seeing what is possible.
  • Hold people back from performing at their best.
  • Literally suck the competitive energy from your business.
  • Simply act as an anchor that you drag forward day after day slowing your progress.

In whatever form they may impact your business you do not want these barriers. They are self-imposed impediments that slow down, distract and stop your business from competing to its fullest ability.

Pride, self-interest, politics, paradigms, managerial frames and bureaucracy are all examples of agents that prevent your business from becoming all that it can be. You must remove them if your business is ever to achieve its potential.

The Thirteen

There are actions that occur regularly in a business that serve only to limit, block and undermine performance. Seek them out and remove them. Here is a list of the 13 greatest offenders:

1.    Me-first, profit-first are the least effective motives that anyone can set. Self-interest at either a personal or corporate level will sap the competitive energy from a business. Do not use or allow self-gain or profit as the default motive in your business.

2.    Businesses are made to compete, don’t hold your business back. People work at their best when there is a worthy challenge before them, allow them to step up and deliver their best.

3.    Performance is not achieved through hope. A business only becomes competitively-fit through diligent hard work, sitting on the bench watching won’t get your business anywhere.

4.    Your weakest leader sets the ceiling to your success. Leadership sets the standard for performance in your business, your weakest leader will set the ceiling to that performance, and that weakness will lie in their character as a leader and person.

5.    Profit is not a purpose. Businesses do not exist to profiteer, they exist to meet the needs of their customers, and if they do this well, then profit will flow. Make competing to deliver greater value to your customers the purpose of your business.

6.    People are not a cost centre. People are the core of your competitiveness; if you treat them as a cost-centre to be minimised you will only be continually undermining performance.

7.    Visions are never expressed with a $ sign. The vision for your business is its quest, the journey that you are asking every person to join in. It must be exciting, enticing and worthy of their effort.

8.    Culture is never about control, self, or dollars. The personality of your business, its culture, must support its competitive posture, that is, the way it has chosen to compete.

9.    Customers are not a source of profit. Every decision should be made upon the impact it has on meeting the needs of customers and the value you are able to deliver to them.

10. Capability is not what you do well today. It can only be what you must do well to outcompete all others. The continual improvement of capability aligned with lifting the value delivered to customers must be a cultural trait – better every day.

11. Strategy is never about more money, that is merely an outcome. Strategy is expressed through the way you position your business in its chosen market, its competitive posture, to deliver more value than anyone else can.

12. The profit motive is the key seed of barriers. Make profit the motive of your business, and you will seed endless barriers to performance throughout that business.

13. No one should profiteer from the efforts of others. Leadership is only ever about lifting the performance of others to the forefront, never allow potential to be held captive for the self-interest of another.


To build a great business, commence with creating a clear unrestricted pathway to success. Build the attributes that support achievement, growth and competitiveness. Remove all barriers that block potential. And do this regularly because as soon as you turn your attention away, the barriers will re-emerge.


An entirely new level of performance.

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All the best in the success of your business,

Richard Shrapnel