5 interesting lessons Hercule Poirot can teach you about running a business

14 March 2022

The newest cinematic iteration of the 1937 Agatha Christie novel, Death on the Nile, hit UK cinemas in February 2022.

If you’ve been to see Death on the Nile already, you might be inspired by the slick and incisive portrayal of the iconic sleuth, Hercule Poirot, played this time by legendary actor Kenneth Branagh.

Poirot, the ingenious Belgian detective at the heart of this tale, is taking a holiday in Egypt when he falls in with a group of holidaymakers on a riverboat. But when there’s a murder on the Nile, Poirot’s detective skills are called into action as he attempts to solve the mystery.

You might be thinking: what does this have to do with running my business? Indeed, you may never have drawn a comparison between yourself as a business owner and this 1930s crime-solver with a fabulous moustache.

However, look a little closer, and you could find that running a successful business is a lot like being a detective.

Read on to find out five lessons Hercule Poirot can teach you about running your business.

1. Like Poirot, a business owner needs a quietly commanding presence

We all know Poirot by sight: the fresh-pressed suit, the bowler hat and, of course, the audacious moustache.

While it is definitely not essential to wield a 1930s French-style moustache as a business owner, one lesson Hercule Poirot could teach you is about having a distinctive presence. Running a business is all about garnering respect from your colleagues, and you may have felt at times like your presence isn’t taken seriously.

Having a quietly commanding presence as a business owner is still important, even if you have a more collaborative leadership style. It could be that you aren’t trusting yourself enough when you enter a room full of people who look up to you.

Indeed, according to HR Magazine, up to 96% of people experience impostor syndrome at work. A quietly commanding presence comes from self-belief, so if you are insecure about your position as a leader, this will come off in your interactions with others.

In your next company-wide meeting, why not channel Poirot and trust in your innate ability to lead people and solve issues? You might find yourself being more carefully listened to and could feel more confident in your position as a result.

2. A business owner must be detail-orientated

If there’s one thing Hercule Poirot never misses, it’s a seemingly insignificant detail.

Solving murders is about looking at the whole picture – both the “macro” and the “micro” factors that contribute to the situation.

In Death on the Nile, the “macro” factors at play are the relationships between those on board, while the “micro” details might come down to tiny pieces of evidence, like a string of pearls or a bottle of nail polish.

As a business leader, you could take a leaf out of Poirot’s book when it comes to being incisive, focused and detail-orientated. Being obsessive over the minutiae of your company’s day-to-day activity isn’t constructive, but balancing your attention to “macro” and “micro” details could provide the clarity you need to progress your business to the next level.

3. Experience matters most of all

Hercule Poirot seems to have seen it all.

Every time he is faced with a new mystery to solve, he draws upon his past experiences of noticing patterns of human behaviour, asking the right questions, seeing where people tend to slip up, and examining evidence, in order to crack the case.

As a company leader, using your past experiences to create a brighter future for both the company itself and the people within it is crucial. If you have made mistakes in the past – who hasn’t? – allowing these to weigh on your mind could be detrimental to your ability to lead in the future.

So, do as Poirot does and use your experiences, good and bad, to tackle new problems with a wealth of knowledge behind you.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions

If you’ve ever read or watched an Agatha Christie murder mystery, you will know that Poirot isn’t always welcome wherever he goes.

Poirot’s presence often unnerves people, because he does something many people are scared to do: he asks the hard questions.

Running a business isn’t a walk in the park, and one of the major challenges you might face is having to look problems straight in the eye. This could be addressing employee misconduct, financial slip-ups, or client dissatisfaction.

By avoiding difficult questions and trying to be everyone’s friend, you could be inadvertently impeding your business’ chances of success.

You might not always be the most popular person in the room, but if Poirot can teach you anything, it’s that getting to the bottom of a problem isn’t about you, it’s about the greater good of the situation.

5. Follow the evidence and you can’t go far wrong

When you are a business owner, it is easy to become paranoid about problems that arise. Is it your fault? Could you have anticipated this better? Might there be other factors at play that you are unaware of?

It is normal to have these worries but, ultimately, it is crucial to focus on what’s right in front of you. Just as Poirot gathers evidence to investigate the crime at hand, you need to look at the trail of evidence leading you to a problem within your business.

For example, if a client has complained about an error in your services that has caused them difficulty or even cost them money, your natural reaction might be to blame the person who has direct contact with that client.

However, if you look more closely and follow the trail of communication, you might find that the error was made further up the ranks, or that overall communication within your business isn’t up to scratch.

So, instead of making assumptions, make sure you trace mistakes back to their source to crack the case, so you can prevent further errors from happening in future.

Get in touch

Being a business owner can be lonely. You carry lots of responsibility on your shoulders – and while Poirot seems to cope with difficult situations alone, you don’t have to.

Working with a financial planner can give you the peace of mind you need as a business owner, so get in touch for guidance. Email info@depledgeswm.com or call 0161 8080200.

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