By Fred Leeb, Leeb Partners, LLC, October 3, 2017
1) Harness your passion: remember the adage—“Do what you love and you’ll never work another day in your life.” You will need all the energy you can muster to make your business successful. On the other hand, you can’t just rely on your own personal creativity, being smarter than all your competitors repeatedly or being lucky. It takes a lot of hard work, stamina, self-discipline and teamwork. Remember that you also will be setting an example for everyone else (e.g., your employees, customers, vendors, lenders, etc.). But, if you cross the line to fanaticism, you will lose your ability to make prudent decisions, your credibility, and, eventually, your position of leadership.
2) Encourage input from everyone around you and actually implement the best ideas that they develop. If you bottle up your problems, rely only on your own solutions and just keep slamming into a wall without succeeding, you may end up blaming everyone around you for failure. But that would be your fault, not theirs. This is because you wouldn’t be taking advantage of their knowledge and expertise. You wouldn’t be spreading the decision-making burden so it is not all on your shoulders. In reality, asking for help is a sign of confidence, not weakness. Asking for help will strengthen morale, improve your work environment and cause people to work harder. Everyone will know they are part of team where each person is committed to each other’s success. But, remember that actions always speak much louder than words—you must demonstrate your respect for others’ opinions by fostering openness, leaving room for mistakes, and actually implementing their recommendations.
3) Remain calm and clear-headed in high-pressure situations. Every business has its ups and downs but successful leaders must have the clarity to make the correct decisions under any circumstances. There could be tremendous stress, a lack of the important facts on which to make a wise decision, huge consequences, and an impossibly short deadline. A leader must remain cool, confident and decisive to put together the facts, analyze practical options and instill trust and support in others. Leaders who are either euphoric in good times or hysterical in bad times will not last long.
4) Embrace change. Analyze and learn from your competitors, invest in education and training for yourself and your employees, bring in people from other organizations, and apply/modify successful concepts taken from other industries to improve your own business. Avoid having an inbred organization where everyone agrees, has the same set of experiences and solutions, and is satisfied with the status quo. Living in the past, using only the solutions that have worked in the past, eventually will cause your business to be in the past. Understand that change will only get faster and the good old days will never come back.
5) Strengthen others and encourage them to overachieve. Utilize cross-training, rotational assignments, consultants, outside seminars and other methods to cause people to grow and progress in the organization. This will improve operations throughout the organization by enabling people to understand how the pieces fit together. In addition, it will protect the successful organization from failure due to a lack of competent managers or a succession plan that works on paper but can’t be implemented due to a lack of managerial training. Family businesses, as a critical element of this process, should institute open and honest decision-making and planning regarding managerial promotions for family members. The organization should address whether family members should be in line for top management without regard to merit or demonstrated success. Nobody will benefit if the business dies due to emotional family squabbles, an exodus of capable employees who have hit a management ceiling, and untrained family members who may be set up to fail.
6) Identify the critical measures of success, track the relevant data elements often and recognize the importance of continuous improvement. Work with your managers to develop practical financial and operational data to measure success. Cause everyone to commit to the achievement of these goals that have been built by consensus. Publish the results regularly to foster clarity and understanding throughout the organization. Utilize one-on-one meetings, however, to understand underlying issues and verify your assumptions. Revise the goals as necessary to improve quality continuously. Welcome constructive criticism and open communication without being personally offended or overly sensitive.
If you would like your business issues addressed by an experienced, unbiased outside expert, call Fred Leeb at Leeb Partners, LLC now at 248-514-3262 for a free initial meeting to identify the issues and to implement the necessary changes. The meeting will be completely confidential and without further obligation.