5 Powerful Lessons from The Wizard of Oz for Business Leaders

Image via Wikimedia Commons | Public Domain

All too often, business owners face formidable challenges. Although this is a very normal part of any entrepreneurial journey, there is much riding on how one is able to handle the waves of emotion and hurdles that get in the way of reaching the vision of success. In cases such as these, perspective and awareness can go a long way in overcoming those obstacles. And sometimes, that perspective can be best expressed through a story, which is in this case, the classic tale The Wizard of Oz.

Here’s what one of the best stories of all time can teach you about confronting challenges and growing your business.

Value the journey

In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and her friends embark on an incredible journey, one that sees them all grow in transformative ways. As a business owner, you are also on a journey. The challenges and victories are part of your own unique story and you need to find a way to convey it to your stakeholders including employees, clients, vendors, and partners. The reason for this is that stories stick with people and have an impact on how they perceive your brand, your company culture and your ability to grow. Embrace your journey with the realization that every successful business has gone through that process.

Things aren’t always what they seem

In the tale of The Wizard of Oz, the heroes are stunned when that the Wizard was far from the powerful and able figure that they had expected him to be. Likewise, the stumbling blocks that your company face may not be what you think they are. Solutions to business challenges seldom lie in looking at them through the same lens as you have always done in the past. Innovation, creativity, and fundamental changes may be necessary for your business to grow, meaning that it is crucial to develop new tools and skills that allow you to examine your business with a different level of awareness and perspective. Invest in the things that give you these new perspectives – ask for input from your employees, seek new partnerships, look for innovative solutions with your suppliers and vendors. Your seemingly great challenges may not be what they seem when approached in a new way with a fresh approach.

Don’t be cowardly

As we witnessed the Cowardly Lion transform into a brave creature, it is important to overcome your fears. Success in business means being courageous – courageous enough to start something from scratch, and courageous enough to make the leap and searching for new opportunities, even if it means making a big departure from how you have done business in the past. It isn’t easy to find that courage but the alternative is to manage from fear – which is probably what your competitors are doing.

Have a heart

The Tin Man lacked a heart, which is another way of saying that he lacked the energy, emotion, and inspiration to lead his life in the way that he wanted to. Business is all about energy, and that energy flows from the top down. As a CEO, owner, or leader, you must find a way to build a culture that engages people with energetic enthusiasm. Employees who feel heard, valued, and respected work with much more energy than those who don’t. They are more likely to do what is right because they feel a sense of ownership in their contributions, and they stick around because they love where they work. They can only feel that energy if their leaders bring it to work each and every day.

Brainpower matters

Take it from the Scarecrow – it takes work to become smarter. Developing the brains or aptitude to drive change in your business means committing to continually upgrade your own skills. As a business leader, developing new perspectives, awareness, and resources only come from dedicating the time to invest in yourself and your employees. Coaching, training, and leadership development can all help to increase productivity. These things are not an extravagance, but the minimum that it takes to run and grow a dynamic company.

Success is achievable but one must embrace the journey. Along this path, do not be afraid to challenge yourself to look at your business in new ways. Innovative growth and positive change only come to those who have the skills, energy, and courage to improve themselves and do things differently.

Mark Fornasiero is a partner in Shirlaws Group (Canada). Shirlaws is an international group of companies that focuses on building assets in private enterprise that contribute to long-term increases in equity value.