We need leaders to reclaim the positive leadership narrative and model responsible behavior. We need leaders in charge who genuinely care about other people and want to make the world a better place.
No matter how far out the tide goes, all waves come crashing back to shore. The same is true with business cycles. We have experienced a particularly good period in business over the past decade or so. After experiencing a difficult recession, our economy roared back to life. Many of us have not only regained […]
Without a plan your business is a like a tumbleweed blowing in the wind. You don’t know where it will end up and the course it takes to get there is subject to the whims of other forces. Unfocused effort only ever leads to frustration, miscommunication, wasted effort, poor financial decision making, unnecessary stress and less than optimal results.
I find that one of the most recognizable traits of an effective leader is that they bring positive energy to a room. You can feel it the moment they walk through the door. I have been in banquet halls far from the entrance and felt the presence of certain people as they arrived. It’s almost as if a small electrical jolt works its way through the crowd. While most of us aren’t blessed with this type of “rock star” aura, we can certainly notice and work on the effect we have on others. You are either adding energy to the group dynamic or diminishing it. It really is this simple. Leaders must be a source of consistent positive energy if they want to get the most of out of their people.
Beware of putting yourself or anyone up on a pedestal. There are right ways and wrong ways to feed someone else’s or your own ego. Just because an individual has experienced significant success in one aspect of life, doesn’t mean they are equally competent in all other things human. It doesn’t do that person or you any good to blanket the praise. It is one thing to appreciate and respect individual accomplishment. It is another to think that similar success could be achieved in whatever else that person attempted. In fact, it can be dangerous as we heed advice or jump to conclusions about different situations based on who we choose as our role models. For example, Bruce Springsteen is a very talented songwriter and musician, but there is most likely a difference between his songwriting and his own reality. He is not a deity, he is a man. Thinking he has life all figured out isn’t fair to him or you. No one of that stature can ever live up to the hype.
There is a fine line between being good at what you do for a period of time and achieving sustained success. If you are not careful short-term success can lead to long-term complacency. Once you scale the mountain, start looking for the next peak/challenge. Don’t spend too long enjoying the view from the top. I see it all the time: leaders who once had really high standards and big dreams start lowering their expectations and/or getting distracted by other things. They start to spend more time enjoying the fruits of their success than planting the next crop to harvest. Of course, you should bask in the glow of your accomplishments and take some time to appreciate what winning feels like. However, never forget what it took to get you there.
Here are a few basic truths to help ensure your success: It all starts with simple math. The formula is pretty straightforward: Revenue – Expenses = Profit. You need to sell enough of something and price it properly so that it exceeds your costs of doing business. Knowingly taking work at a loss is a […]
More than 1,500 Vistage members surveyed in the Q1 2013 Vistage CEO Confidence Index reported an improved economy and brighter prospects for their own firms despite recent cutbacks in federal spending.
I have always been a fan of Sir Richard Branson. He has so much wisdom to share but more importantly his energy and passion for entrepreneurship and individual initiative is infectious. He is very inspiring. I encourage you to take the time to watch this interview and/or read one of his many books:
What do you stand for? This is a question all leaders should able to answer fairly easily but most struggle with addressing. I’ve been in many organizations where if you asked the question, “What does this business stand for,” you would get blank stares. Values are the building blocks of any organization. Without a common set of beliefs and principles, a company is like a ship without a rudder – adrift in a sea of individual interpretation and situational experience. It has never been just about making money but how you make your money that matters the most. And, the how involves many issues such as the way you treat your customers, employees, vendors, the environment, etc.
Time is finite. No matter how hard we try, we can’t create more of it, so we have to manage the time we have in the best way possible. A leader typically has no time to waste. You need to minimize distractions and maximize your focus. Here are some tips on how to manage your time better:
Far too many organizations are dependent upon far too few people to be successful. I often ask my clients, “What happens to your business if something happens to you?” The answers more often than mot are less than satisfactory. One of the key jobs of a leader is to mitigate risk and one of the biggest risks you have in any company is people risk – starting at the top. It may feed your ego to be critically important to your company but it is no way to build an enduring successful organization.
One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn in my line of work is that you can’t save everyone. Despite your good intentions and best efforts, sometimes the formula will not work. In some cases, you might have to accept the fact that you are not the right fit for a given engagement or client relationship. In other instances, there is always a reason why someone is struggling and until they fully come to grips with this fact and take ownership of their behavior, there is only so much you can do.
There is a dark side to our competitive nature as individuals that often begrudges the success of others. I’m not sure why this and there are probably many psychological and neurological explanations. What I do know is that individual success is good for a community. In business this means more people get hired, employees have steady and stable incomes, more vendors get paid, tax revenues go up, charitable giving increases,and more discretionary dollars are spent on other things. The good news with entrepreneuers is that most of the fruits of their success stays local. We should root for as many people to be successful as possible.
Leaders should be in a constant learning mode. Once you think you know it all give up the reigns of power because you will become detrimental to your organization. While some basic fundamental beliefs may remain true regardless of the circumstances, most of what takes place in business is in a constant state of flux. Your goal should be to stay ahead of the change curve not fall behind it. One way to do this is to keep asking questions and seeking answers. You can never be smart enough.
One of the interesting things I find with high performing people is that they are usually harder on themselves than anyone else could be. Sure there are some exceptions – leaders who just self-confidence, but this is rarer than you think. There is usually something that drives an individual to excel. You hope the motivation is a positive one; however this isn’t always the case. I still remember one of my top clients saying several years ago that fear of failure is a good motivator and he didn’t know what he would do if ever actually embraced and enjoyed his success. I found this to be sad and he couldn’t understand why.
It’s easy to get caught up in your own world. Since we pretty much live in our own head, it’s natural to filter everything that happens through how it affects us. However, leaders to need to elevate their thinking to incorporate the bigger picture. The needs of the organization as a whole need to take priority over any one person’s agenda. No leader is ever successful alone. You need employees, clients, vendors, professional advisors and a supportive family. You may sometimes have to sacrifice what you want or desire as an individual for the greater good.
It’s very important to celebrate your accomplishments! It’s easy to get wrapped up in the day to day aspects of running an organization and forget why you are working so hard in the first place. Being in business can be a bumpy ride especially these past few years. However, if you’ve been in business for any prolonged period of time you must be doing something right. And, it’s important to recognize those events, milestones and people who helped you get here and increase your likelihood of continued success in the future.
It’s important for everyone to get involved in their community but especially business owners/leaders. No business operates in full isolation from its surroundings. At minimum, you will want a friendly and cooperative relationship with your local public officials and community leaders. You will also want your employees to feel like they live in a place with a good quality of life. It is simple good business sense to be connected to and care about what takes place in your local environment.
Focus on what you do well and then delegate everything else you possibly can. Many leaders spend far too much time on things they aren’t good at. Leadership is about effectively growing, leveraging and deploying assets. If the top personnel resource in the company is being used inefficiently or ineffectively what does that say about the organization as a whole? Time is finite and once it is wasted it is gone.
As you grow as a leader and start to have some success it’s important that you not get too full of yourself and remain somewhat humble. This is especially true as you begin to do more public speaking. While you certainly can, it’s not advisable to just say whatever is on your mind and believe you have all the answers. I’m often amazed how many people forget this fact. Otherwise smart people who have a lot to share with an audience kill their credibility with unwise or unnecessarily controversial statements. You have to know when to use your personal censor button.