Some entrepreneurs are surprised when I mention that the success of their company lies in their own leadership strengths. Many times they are so focused on improving their business, financial, sales and other skills that they completely forget that people buy from those they know, like and trust. They miss that the #1 reason why employees quit is not the salary, but bad leaders.
As a business owner you lead every day – your team, your operations, your marketing, your product quality, your customer relationships and more. Your business success is limited by your ability to lead. Today I want to focus on 7 key areas where your improved leadership skills can contribute to a tremendous improvement in your business.
1. Have and communicate a vision
Inspiring vision touches people’s hearts, inspires your team to achieve greater results and your customers to spend money with your company. Vision must be communicated properly and often to impact others. As a leader, ensure that your people know what you expect, what you stand for, and what you care about.
2. Lead by example
People don’t do what you tell them to do, they model your behaviour as a leader. To create a culture you desire to see in your business, you must show it in your daily life. Choose to do the things you require. Be a person of character. Expect more from yourself than you do from others. Hold yourself to higher standard. Model the desired behaviour and you will inspire others.
3. Set & protect boundaries
This point is inspired by the book “Boundaries for Leaders” by Henry Cloud which I’m currently reading. In his words, leaders must be ridiculously in charge. It’s not enough to lead by example. You must also protect your business from negative forces – undesirable behaviour, action or communication breakdowns. It’s necessary that you as a leader stop swiping the problems under the carpet, but point at the elephant in the room, address and resolve the challenges.
If you struggle with delegation, you are not alone. It isn’t easy to let go and trust others with tasks that you can do. But great leaders understand that their capacity is limited and by delegating tasks to others they actually increase this capacity. You see, there’s a limit on how much you can do in a day.
But when you bring someone else alongside of you, you just doubled the time available to you. Suddenly, you can do two things at the same time. Your assistant can take care of shipments and customer support while you work on marketing and sales. And when you bring a sales person who will take care of marketing and sales, you can focus on product development or service improvement. And it goes on.
Furthermore, if you find people who do the work better than yourself, you will more than double your capacity. Which brings me to the next point…
5. Hire great people
By hiring great people I mean hiring people who are the “Right Fit” for the job, team and organization. They have the necessary knowledge and experiences, they are motivated and have the right attitude, but they also have the right strengths that will move your team forward.
Recognizing talent, contribution and achievement is detrimental to your business success. You will always get more of what you recognize & reward. Pay a close attention to your people. Notice even slight improvements in behaviour, performance, focus on building a momentum of great results and powerful teamwork. Recognizing the good will diminish the undesirable results or weak performance (warning: you still shouldn’t just tolerate those, but deal with them). Just ensure that you are being fair. Look at individual achievements, effort, commitment and reward based on personal strengths, not against them.
Let me give you an example. If you are someone who values innovation, you might have a tendency to reward only those who are innovative thinkers and make things happen quickly, in the spur of the moment. But if your company only had innovative people, it wouldn’t be sustainable. There would be so much change and disruption that it could lead to your team feeling overwhelmed and customers leaving. It might even create tension on your budget and ultimately threaten entire company. You need to notice and reward people who prevent that from happening. Those who see risks behind the quick decisions and create emergency plans and safety procedures to keep your business running smoothly. Those who make you evaluate your decision before you jump in and waste loads of money. Be a fair leader who sees strengths of each individual, whether they are team members, business partners, stakeholders, vendors or clients.
7. Communicate proactively & effectively
I left this one for the end, but communication is actually one of the most important leadership skills. As a leader you need to constantly improve your communication skills. To prevent creating ideas out of isolation, you need to create opportunities and invest time in listening to your people. You also need to be proactive in your communication. Prevent the rumours, address misunderstandings, resolve conflict. Don’t sit on it and hope for it to resolve itself. Things will only get worse! Build a good rapport with your people by being a person of your word. If you said you will do something, either do it or explain why it can’t be done. Don’t just dissolve it pretending the issue doesn’t exist.
Have you reached your full capacity as a leader of your business? I hope not. Being in a variety of leadership roles for over 15 years, I still haven’t arrived. There are many things I can still learn and improve. And I hope that you are like me… seeing the potential in your that you haven’t reached yet. I hope you can see at least one area where you can step up your game and make things better for your business, team or customers.
To your success,
PS: Our team put together a great resource called Leadership Breakthrough designed to help you improve your leadership skills. You can get it absolutely free, just click on the image below and claim your copy.