Numbers Don’t Lie and 3 More Fiscal Leadership Proverbs

Pithy leadership statements can be annoying, but when forced to make a difficult decision quickly, they can be sage wisdom. This is especially the case when it comes to fiscal decisions. Perhaps this is why much of the biblical proverbs are about money. Here are four modern fiscal proverbs and why they will help you be a better leader.

1. Numbers don’t lie.

Numbers don’t lie when it comes to our bank accounts, yet they’re often ignored when it comes to employee performance. If you can’t measure it, and point to your accomplishment, then why do it? If people aren’t held accountable by data, our coaching is really based on feelings and intuition, not performance. After prayer and relationship building, start with the numbers. If you don’t have the numbers, create an unbiased system. Then, make decisions using it.

2. Intangibles are intangible.

When faced with ugly financial statements, we’ve all heard the appeal to intangibles, but intangibles are just that, intangible—they don’t pay the bills. The garbage collector won’t get the job done on the basis of purely good intentions. The collector can have all the great intentions in the world and the trash can still be sitting in front of my house. Likewise, the collectors won’t keep picking up my trash on the basis of my good intentions—they need to be paid. Why do we let intangibles guide businesses when intangibles will fail us? The numbers should back your intentions: does a pro forma and past financials prove it? If not, then you probably shouldn’t do it.

3. The early bird gets the worm.

The company first to the market is often the winner. And in business, the difference between second and first can be astounding—like the difference between 90% market share and 10%. After you have removed the intangibles from the equation, and are prepared to coach by the numbers, go after a market that no one has. If you’re first, you could very well get the worm.

4. Being first now doesn’t mean staying there.

If you want a business to stay alive, you can never call it “good enough”—you have to keep moving forward. If you’ve watched the stock market long enough, you know that major players can quite easily cease to matter. It’s extremely difficult for the company with 90% market share to lose, but it’s possible. It usually happens when the market the company dominates stops being as interesting to consumers as it was previously or when the market isn’t large enough to keep up with the company’s necessary growth. Don’t assume that being at the top means staying there. Never cease to find new places to make a profit.

Numbers don’t lie. Intangibles are intangible. The early bird gets the worm. Being first doesn’t mean staying there. Don’t just listen to your gut; back it with data or refute it with numbers. Stay friends with the numbers’ guru. Create the system that will enable you to lead by the numbers. Be a better leader by knowing the truth—don’t guess. Live by the numbers.

What fiscal proverb are you led by? How does it help you make good decisions?

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