Tips from the Top - June 2014
Thinking Like a Leader
When you launch your business, the initial success is all about you, the business owner. However, growth also creates a need for more employees, which quickly tests your ability to lead people. Continued success soon becomes all about your ability to help your employees grow and take on added responsibility; it’s no longer just about you…Read more
It Does Not Have to be Lonely at the Top
As a business owner, you have no doubt experienced how lonely it can be at the top. It doesn’t have to be lonely, though. Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto to talk with. You don’t have to go it alone; in fact, there are several reasons you should involve (listen to) others…Read more
Fly the Plane
If I could offer one piece of advice to busy C-level execs in corporations these days, it would be this: remember to look up from the controls to see where you’re flying the plane. Yes, attention needs to be paid to making sales next quarter. Heck, attention needs to be paid to making sales THIS quarter. But putting all your attention on logistics and not enough on vision can be, well, deadly…Read more
Failure is an Opportunity to Learn
As a business owner, you are sometimes faced with failures (closing a location, hiring the wrong person, failed product launch, etc.) that shake your confidence. You also tend to take it personally since it’s a reflection of decisions you made. You have to accept that you made the decision with the best information at that time. You should look at this failure as an opportunity to learn and do something different the next time. I find the best way to learn from a failure is to document what went right and what went wrong. There will still be a new location, new people to hire and new products to launch. How we learn from our mistakes will help us be more prepared in the future.
Designing Your Future Role in the Business
As business owners, most of us wear multiple hats (Chief Everything Officer). Most likely, you don’t want it to always be this way. You need to be able to answer questions such as: where is your organization today? Where do you want it to be? What is your role in your future business and how do you get there? Unless you can answer these questions and more, it will be very difficult to bring in anyone to run or buy the business. In addition to using Strategic Business Leadership (SBL) to plan for your future, you definitely want to have two job descriptions for yourself. One job description is your current job description (what are your responsibilities?). The other is your future job description, or what you want your role to be. This second job description should definitely be in alignment with your personal vision. It will provide you with clarity and direction.
Good Leadership Requires Development
Some people are "natural leaders." But just like any skill or talent, leadership must be exercised and developed to reach its full potential. There are plenty of naturally talented football players, but no one plays in the NFL without practice, study and coaching to continually improve their skills. A person who is not interested in leadership development will never be a great leader.
Visionary Leaders Do Not Follow the Crowd
One of the common characteristics of a truly visionary leader is that they tend to make a conscientious decision to go north with consensus amongst the crowd is to head south. Meaning, they don’t always follow conventional wisdom or natural tendencies but choose to do the opposite. As business owners, our natural tendency is to cut back on spending when the economy is down. Usually, one of the first budgets to be cut is sales and marketing. Yet this response is the exact opposite of what we should be doing. Rather, we should be investing in sales and marketing, positioning our companies to take the lion’s share of the new business that will be generated as the economy recovers. What is the benchmark for recommended expenditure on sales and marketing compared to revenue for your industry? What are you spending compared to the benchmark? Should you be doing more?
Delegate Responsibilities, Not Work
I recently began to appreciate the distinction between delegating responsibility versus delegating work. When I delegate responsibility, my employee is accepting an on-going obligation to ensure that some business function is efficiently managed and controlled. When I delegate work, the obligation ends when the task is completed.