Have you ever head the saying, “a fish rots from the head down”?

This is very true in business. A business owner who doesn’t take responsibility for leadership cannot blame others if a business is not successful. The performance of a business is the direct reflection of its leaders. It’s just like looking in the mirror.

If business leaders are indecisive, the business will be dysfunctional. If leaders have poor ethics, the business will be unethical. If leaders don’t care about their employees, the employees won’t care about the business. A business owner who is clear on the role of a leader in the business, and practices what he/she preaches, will earn the respect and support of those around them and will find it easier to achieve success in the business.

For any business leader, the three words of the CEO’s mantra is essential in ensuring your fish doesn’t rot from the head down. These three words will support you in your business so you can lead by example and maximise the likelihood of your business success: context, energy, coach.


As the leader of your business, it is your primary job to ensure your business makes sense. You have determined your business context, you understand its purpose, you have defined the decision making context, and you live the core values of the business. You are the guardian of business context.

For the business to achieve enduring success, it is your responsibility to lift yourself out of the business content (what the business does) and guard the business context (what the business is). This is often called business integrity. As the guardian of context, it is your responsibility to ensure that every facet of your business makes sense and aligns to and supports the purpose. If it doesn’t, your business will not make sense to those who connect with it.


As the leader of your business, it is your job to manage the energy of the business. If your business has energy blocks, it is your responsibility to ensure they are removed directly or by delegating, depending on the size of your business.

Remember that you are the apex of your business. You are the person everyone looks to for guidance, leadership and direction. So you must first manage your own energy. If you are the energy block around an activity, get out the way. If your personal energy is down, how do you think your team will feel? Remember, a fish rots from the head down. ake responsibility for your energy and the energy of your business. It’s your business; no one else is going to take responsibility for it.


As the leader of your business, you are the business coach. The coach of any sporting team picks the team, puts them into their positions, analyses strengths and weaknesses, develops the game plan, puts into place individual and team strategies, and reviews the competition. The coach’s job is to lead the team so they can maximise their potential on the field, with a view to winning. If the coach was a player on the team, who would watch from the sidelines to focus on areas for improvement? Who is going to see when the team needs to slow down or speed up? Who is going to watch the entire game?

As a leader of your business you must delegate every task and not participate in the activities that do not add value to the business. Activities like cost management and administration as a starting point. However, you cannot delegate the role of being the coach of your business. If you spend all of your time playing in the business game, eventually your team will lack direction and you will lose. If you understand your role as a coach in your business and you are frustrated, chances are you are spending too much time playing. Coach the team first, play the game second, but only in the positions you love to play and where you can make the biggest impact on the game.


Remember that as a business leader, the three words you need to remember are context, energy and coach. These three words will support you in your business so you can lead by example and maximise your business success.

If you’d like help to clarify and identify the direction you want your practice to move towards, you can purchase my book The Revenue Revolution for Law Firms, which is designed to guide your legal practice to achieve long-term PROFITABILITY and CASH FLOW success, and gives you the strategies for implementing a strong competitive edge and developing revenue growth.

Matt Schlyder
The Lawyers’ Accountant