Authentic Leadership, Birdseed and Droopy Plants….

I’ve become very interested in Authentic Leadership (watch out for more blogs on this subject soon) and confess to being on a bit of a mission to show people this is not the fluffy-bunny, touchy-feely (or indeed any other double-barrelled) approach, it may appear.

One area of Authentic Leadership came to mind the other day, when I experienced problems with purchases I was making from two businesses.  The leadership area in question was that of ‘Taking Ownership For Your Mistakes’.

I’m an avid gardener and I recently purchased some plants from a mail order company.  I’d ordered from them before and was always happy with the quality of their plants.  On this occasion however, the plants I received were in very poor condition and were clearly ready for the great compost bin in the sky.

My second purchase involved an order of bird seed from a local business (Yes, it’s a Rock n’ Roll lifestyle up north!).  Unfortunately, I was delivered the wrong kind of seeds (No, I won’t go into detail, as the excitement could prove fatal!).

So what’s the link?  Well, on the first occasion the business owner took time to find out what the problem was before quickly offering various solutions to my problem – i.e. refund, replacement plants, alternative plants – and a huge apology for not getting this right first time.  I opted for replacement plants and remain a very happy customer, already planning my next order from them.

The bird food supplier however, proceeded to maintain they’d ordered the right food, making excuses even after they’d checked their order book and seen their mistake.  They were then reluctant to take back the stock, saying they couldn’t return it to their supplier.  The result?  I ended the call and immediately began looking for a new supplier online – not something I take lightly, as an advocate of supporting local small businesses.

So, the moral of the story…. We’re all human and we all make mistakes, but it’s actually how we deal with things when they go wrong – rather than when they’re going well – that really gives a true measure of our, and our organisation or business’ worth. 

Karen Amos is the founder of BrightBird Coaching and Training, providing Result-Focused coaching and development support for leaders, teams and organisations across the private, public, not-for-profit and education sectors.  To find out more, please visit

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