No Turning Back – Are You Tough Enough to Make a Seismic Culture Change?

If our previous posts on toughening up your business culture to ramp up your financial controls and make your business more lucrative have made you think, act and lead differently – then brace yourself for what could conceivably be the most painful challenge to date.

Establishing whether you really have what it takes to make the transition from a business world where many of your employees have been like lifelong mates than colleagues – to one where the adage ‘It’s lonely at the top’ becomes a harsh reality that rolls out endlessly and relentlessly day after day until you exit your company to live the life you’ve always wanted.

Before plunging into unknown territory and into deep introspection, remind yourself that the decision to swap your current cosy culture for a more accountable and clinical work environment was triggered after establishing the level of disposable income and lifestyle that you and your nearest and dearest will require of you once you’ve sold the company via a trade sale or a management buyout.

Having made the first two step changes required in this four stage process which entails planning the future of the business, and establishing if your management team are fit for purpose or flagging and under-performing. If the latter, as a performance coach and business mentor I urge you to jettison the under-performers – if they’re mediocre or worse part waves with them now to avoid prolonging the agony. They will not improve – even if you invest tens of thousands of pounds in developing them.

Now for the really tough questions to drive through the next step in the process:

What kind of boss do you need to become?

Being singularly focused on the end goals of achieving your life plan will require some brutal changes – particularly if you are currently in the affable and ‘Mr Nice Guy’ camp. Making a massive jump in your leadership approach will only serve to confuse and bewilder your team. You will need to carefully think through how you will make the change which entails:

  • Waving goodbye to current work friendships
  • Not deviating from this hard bitten approach
  • Setting in place coping mechanisms and strategies

How much is enough?

Knowing your endgame – because selling your business is the biggest deal you are ever going to make – by working through what you require to keep you and your loved ones in the lifestyle to which they are accustomed – is critical to your culture transition.

  • How much income do you need to take you comfortably through your retirement?
  • How many annual holidays do your partner and children expect?
  • How much do you need to sustain expensive hobbies and interests?

Can you really let go?

Getting the right management team in place to enable you to work ‘on’ and drive the business and culture change forward entails you stepping back.

  • Can you get out from under your business?
  • Could you hand over the reins without interfering?
  • Could you trust your senior management team to do the job in hand?

Having worked through the above, ensure you can cope with the loneliness – because if you think its lonely now – it will become progressively worse as your transition evolves.

Stay posted for the next step in how you will drive and deliver this culture transition. In the meantime, you can e-mail any queries to me on via, go to @RichardWhatIf on Twitter, Richard Bosworth on LinkedIn or post on

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