How I Grew a Successful Business – Part 2 – Leadership

Leadership – Marks of Good Leadersleadership skills

Over my lifetime I have had the privilege of being under the charge of some pretty awesome leaders.  Lucky for me, many were early on in my life and career.  These were true leaders who had an interest in making sure I succeeded.  Leaders who didn’t hold back when I needed coaching and I often did early on.  Leaders who paid attention and shared wisdom when it was needed and stayed out of the way when it was appropriate.

Notice I have not used the word “Manager” as this to me is a title assigned to someone based on an organizational chart.  People in those roles need to be a good leaders of people, in my opinion, to get the right things done.  Manager is just a title like Father is to Dad.

So, Leadership doesn’t just happen.  One has to sharpen that tool.  Books, leadership skillsSeminars, Motivational Speakers, and paying attention to ones own leaders and how they conduct themselves.  You see, it is not about the product or service you have that will make you successful.  It is how your team, no matter the size, goes about making that business a success.  Here is my recipe for leading a team:

  1. Grow Your Leadership Skills – Sharpen the Saw:  You must work on yourself every day.  You are what you expose yourself too.  Good or bad, it becomes part of you.  The people you surround yourself with can have an impact on who you are.  I just finished listening to a pretty motivating speaker that reminded me that Successful People have some core things they do everyday dedicated towards self-improvement.  Here are a few things you should think about:
    • Read something inspiring everyday.  Spend 30 minutes a day reading and learning.  I have included some books in the Self Help section that inspired me in my growth as a person and leader.
    • Reject negativity and don’t allow it to come in.  It is very easy to get on board with negative thoughts but they eat away at your very core and affect how you react to situations and outwardly, to your people.
    • If you have a long enough drive, listen to audio books that inspire you.  That teach you something.  20 to 30 minutes
  2. Create and maintain a positive environment: I had a leader who always left a conversation with “Be happy in your work!”.  If your team members are not happy it will show in their work performance and your business performance.  It really is that simple.
    • People leave their “Managers” but not their Leaders.  Sure, sometimes it is about pay and position.  Many want to move up and get more responsibility.  You may not be able to provide for this need in your business as next up roles are full.  Tough, but support that need even if it means losing a great team member.
    • We will talk about people in the next part of this series.  There is much to consider and learn, all the time!
  3. If your a Leader, and this is important, “YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO HAVE A BAD DAY!”  I know, it’s unfair, but so true.  Your team reacts to how you act.  They watch everything you do and model their behavior after yours.  If your having a stressful day, not handling it well, and show it with your actions, your team will be “On Edge” and performing poorly that day.  You can easily test this out but I do not recommend doing that.
    • As I was putting together a list of reading material I came across a book title, “Leaders Eat Last”.  This told me a huge story just in the title about leadership.  Personally, I did not have my own parking spot at the business.  I could have made this happen and the team would have respected it.  However, to me it meant I was worth more than them to the business.  This was a little thing but it was part of my leadership style.  I parked further away and let them have the closer spots.
  4. Always have time for your people:  It pays off as they grow and become more independent.  Do not forget for one minute that they have lives and families outside of work that outrank anything you can do for them.  When things are going wrong at home, if your “Paying Attention” you will see it at work.  They act differently.  Perhaps just going through the motions at work.  They came to work out of duty and responsibility.
    • Pull them aside and find out what you can do to help.  They may just need an ear.
    • Not up to you to solve it but give them what you can provide so they can solve whatever is troubling them.  May be the rest of the day off to give them time to deal with whatever it may be.
    • The most important part is you have the conversation.  Even if you have to put your work on hold for a short period.  Think about it this way:  If you didn’t show up to work today, would the job get done?  If your team didn’t show up today, would the job get done?  I realize a very small business, you may be the one of just a few but the advice is sound.   “Be Happy in your Work!”
    • I realize that you are the owner and have the ultimate responsibility of everything.  The pressure can be intense sometimes.  Staying calm makes a huge difference in the outcome of any situation.
  5. When things are going wrong and they will, look at yourself first.  This one is hard but if your honest with yourself you will know if it is you, fix you.  If not, then you must identify what went wrong.
    • Sometimes a team member just turns into a Bad Egg.  It happens and no matter what you try, it makes no difference.  You have to make that difficult decision.
    • Most people want to do well.  They want your approval.  They want to see that you are proud of the work the did.  Getting a Praise kicks up their performance by an X-Factor.  Recognition only when things go wrong is the wrong way.
    • Maybe it is a problem that the team needs to help solve.  Nothing has more power than a group solving a problem together.
  6. Listen to your team members Ideas:  You don’t know everything.  You have a dream and likely have set goals to reach in your business.  Hopefully, you have set a budget of sales and profits for the next year and also created a high level look at the next 5 years.  But, you reach those goals with your team members.
    • When I started using this method, our results were amazing.  Team members love to see their ideas implemented.  Indeed, they support them 110% better than ones you force upon them.
    • Sometimes, you have no choice but to implement a program of one nature or another.  In this case, the team should understand that there is no choice on this so ask them “How can we make this a success?”  It is surprising how they can help you get it done and be happy in the process.
    • This works with any facet of a business and the right team members.  Again, depends on the size of your business.
  7. Grow Leaders:  This is not a well known way to look at working with your people.  After all, there is only room for so many Managers, Right?  Your organization chart is filled.  Well, for me a few things come to mind:
    • Each person on your team should be coached to be ready for the next role up.  This mean you teach them leadership skills all the time!
    • Each team member should cross train for at least one other position so you have a backup when needed.
    • When you find great leadership principles in your reading, share this with your people and discuss how to apply it in their different roles.
    • Positions will open up and need “Great” people to take on those openings.  Have them Ready!
    • People who aspire to be more will give you 110% of their engagement and effort to grow your business.
    • You will change the lives of your people just by growing them to be leaders.  They will take this to their families, their children.  You can change society for the better if you apply this principle.

So, If your a Leader of People, find some good books to help you grow your people skills.  Never stop this learning curve.  It will serve you well.  I have listed some books that are fine reads in the Self Help Section-Press here to take a look at them.

  Part 3>>>