Grow Your Business by Being a Great Leader
Editor’s Note: This article is part of a bigger series on supercharging the growth in your business. To start at the beginning click here – Nine Critical Strategies to Grow Your Business in 2020!
In the last article, we discussed customer outreach and what you can learn by listening to your customers comments and concerns.
We even discussed doing regular outreach, having an onboarding plan, and how to generate testimonials and case studies.
Some of these tactics and strategies and the knowledge you’ll gain could significantly grow your business… and double the size of your business. (You can read that article here)
While engaging with customers can help grow your business… Leadership will help you grow your team.
I don’t know a single business leader who’s not struggling with leadership.
I know I have, and do every day. But I’m constantly learning and trying new things… and trying to be the best leader I can be.
I’m learning every single day. Are you?
Today, I’m going to share some ideas and unique experiences. But first…
What’s a Good Leader?
Let’s start with a simple question… What’s a good leader?
Was Winston Churchill a good leader? What about Alexander the Great? What do you think about Steve Jobs, or Abraham Lincoln?
Each of these men had very different leadership styles. Each of them faced big problems, and came up with big solutions. Each of them is recognized differently by history.
They’re all different… and they’re all good leaders.
What makes a good leader… a good leader?
One leader I’ve looked up to my whole life is my father. He’s had the biggest impact on me, and influenced me. (As it should be!)
My father has a very strong set of skills and for better or worse, he’s the leader I compare all others.
My father is strong, confident, has a willingness to change, is kind and charitable, yet also provides tough love. He’s one of the hardest working people I know, and he always has a vision for what needs to be done.
Is he the greatest leader of all time… probably not.
But he’s been a damn good role model for me.
I’ve met with hundreds of business owners and they all exhibit some level of leadership. And I’ve noticed certain strengths in some, and weaknesses in others.
Over time, I’ve seen seven different leadership qualities that seem to reappear over and over again.
Here’s what I observed… which of these are you strong, or weak in?
As a Business Owner and Leader you Need to…
There are seven qualities that I see in a leader, and I try to keep them in mind as I run my businesses. As a business owner and leader, you need too:
- Be ruthless with your time.
- Develop a bigger goal!
- Create healthy rituals.
- Embrace change.
- Keep learning
- Communicate constantly
- Work harder than everyone.
Let’s look at each of these individually.
Be Ruthless with Your Time.
This, above all else is critical for a leader to understand. Time vampires are everywhere.
Getting sucked into long pointless conversations that don’t move the ball forward is not only a waste… it drains your enthusiasm.
It’s hard to have excitement and energy when people are sucking up your time.
That’s why I focus on setting my needs FIRST.
I know it sounds selfish, but if you don’t accomplish a bare minimum of your objectives, you will never find success.
One thing that’s critical for every owner – and it’s often the most overlooked is the personal time.
Seriously, don’t make the mistake I did… don’t sacrifice your health for your business. Schedule mental down time… schedule time for exercise every day… get outdoors… get a massage… read a book for fun.
If you’re not healthy, positive, and energized, your workers will see it!
Nothing is a blow to employee morale more than an exhausted, wiped out leader.
OK, you’ve focused on your needs (personal and business), what’s next?
The next step is looking to see what I can do to keep my employees marching forward… maybe giving out new projects, or advising on current work strategies. Maybe you need to help them get “unstuck”… or just help them balance things.
After that comes everything else!
Here’s another way to look at measuring time…
Full disclosure, this is not my idea… I read it somewhere, and I can’t remember who wrote / said it.
When I work with business partners, I always share the idea of “10, 100, 1,000”.
Ten, one hundred, one thousand… What’s 10, 100, 1,000?
It’s a way I look at what owners need to be focused on.
It’s a way of looking at YOUR EMPLOYEES and making sure they’re doing the right things.
Here it is in real life…
Cleaning the office and taking out the trash… YES as an owner, you can do it. BUT, is that the most valuable use of your time?
Of course not. You can hire someone for $10 an hour to do that.
What about bookkeeping, or legal contract reviews… You can hire a professional for $100 an hour (Give or take).
Is that worth it?
You bet it is!
The other option is spending days and weeks learning the nuances of Accounting & Law. This is why you have professionals work for you!
What’s the $1,000 an hour work?
- That’s you deciding to launch a new product, or service.
- That’s you cutting a big JV deal with another company.
- That’s you creating a new sales funnel.
- That’s you creating a special offer.
Your janitor can’t cut big deals… your staff bookkeeper can’t structure a marketing and sales funnel. Your assistant isn’t going to bring a new product or service from inception to mainstream.
Those are JOBs only you can do… and that’s what you need to spend your time doing.
Those are jobs that are worth $1,000 or even $10,000 an hour!
So when it comes to work… think about the 10, 100, 1,000 rule. Outsource the $10 and $100 an hour jobs… and you need to focus on the $1,000 an hour jobs that can have a major impact on the business.
Oh, and don’t forget to use this with your employees too.
You don’t want your top salesperson pulling reports and worrying about office supplies or expense accounts… they need to be selling!
Going hand in hand with monitoring work loads is the idea of a bigger goal. As a leader you need to…
Develop a BIGGER Goal.
As a leader, you’ve got to have the future in mind. You need to paint a vision of the future. You need to set goals for people to reach.
Just showing up to work is not a big goal.
Try to establish something bigger than your business. Develop that reason WHY… and as you march down the path to reaching a bigger goal remember to celebrate the little wins!
At betwext, our bigger goal is to help other business owners grow and find success. When we hear of text marketing making a big impact on one of our customers, we celebrate those wins!
When a customer finds success, everyone in the company should be excited!
What’s the bigger goal for your business? As a leader you need to decide that, and rally people around it…
But that’s not all,
To be a great leader you need to create healthy rituals.
What do I mean by rituals?
Rituals are things you always do the same way to add stability to the day.
One of the bigger trends in entrepreneurship is setting up your morning rituals. It ensures your day starts off great.
For some that means getting up and drinking a bottle of water, doing exercise, then getting ready for the day.
For others, it’s coffee with the wife and breakfast with the kids before going into the office.
For others, it’s a long elaborate drawn out plan to get your morning going.
I realized I had set up an unintentional ritual every morning. I roll out of bed and the first thing I do is grab a cup of coffee. I love coffee, so no surprise there.
Most days I step out onto the patio, often before the sun rises… and watch Linda feed the horses… and I watch the dogs play in the yard.
I take a few moments to enjoy the day.
Then I watch about 20 minutes of the morning news, either local news, or the BBC… then I get ready for the day.
NO MATTER WHAT I’m sitting at my desk at 7am ready to start the work day.
This ritual has made my mornings the most productive ever. Often I accomplish before noon many of the projects I have scheduled.
That’s just one example…
We’ve also created rituals inside the business.
Weekly rituals with how we do our updates. Monthly rituals where we go over numbers and KPIs. Semi-Annual celebrations where we get together to celebrate the good things we are accomplishing.
As a leader, you should be establishing rituals to add a sense of purpose and stability to the business.
There are thousands of rituals out there… regardless of what you pick, consistency is critical. The key, in my opinion, is working with something that fits your lifestyle style and business persona.
I’ve leaned heavily on rituals and goals, but all good leaders also…
Good Leaders Embrace Change.
Think of all the things that have changed in the last 10 years…
Heck, I remember speaking with my grandfather who reached the ripe old age of 99.
To hear him talk about his memories was crazy… that was before TV… before the internet… before phones… before many had electricity. He told a story of walking to the local pub for his father at 7 years old to get a bucket of beer. (SAY WHAT!)
In my own life, I’ve seen the rise of the internet. It’s been a global game changer. I was lucky enough to see it from the beginning.
It’s a wave that’s changed my life.
As a leader, seeing change is important. But it’s not just seeing change, it’s making a change, and taking action.
Sometimes the changes are easy… other times they’re very difficult.
For example, in one of my businesses, my partner and I realized the tide was changing. The industry was getting more crowded. The barriers to entry weren’t as great. Costs were rising, and sales were falling.
Did we run and hide… nope.
We stopped what we were doing and took a day off. We redesigned the business from top to bottom… and then we took action. We rolled out changes over the next 2 months to change the company.
We fired people. We changed job titles. We closed an office. We outsourced workloads. We cut products. We launched new products.
Nowadays, they’d say we made a PIVOT with the business.
It was not easy. As a matter of fact, it was difficult. Employees were upset, even mad. People lost their jobs. Friends dropped out of our lives because of the changes we made.
But in the end the pivot was critical to our survival.
We accepted change… will you be able to?
As a leader, seeing change is often difficult… but if you’re a leader it becomes easier if you’re…
I don’t know a good leader who doesn’t see learning as a key part of their job.
Learning is critical.
I love to learn new things, and I’m always reading books and studying how people did things.
It could be how Churchill led England through World War 2… or about new techniques for cooking omelets… or the latest tweak to make Facebook ads a success.
As a leader, you must be constantly learning about the inside operations of your business… and learning about the outside threats in the industry.
You need to be learning about your customers… and their changing needs. Plus you need to keep on top of business changes (like tax and law).
One of the biggest groups you’ll want to inspire is your workers. Your employees…
And to inspire your need to communicate constantly!
You are not a good leader if you can’t communicate!
I learned this very early in my career.
One of my first “official” jobs was as a marketing intern for a very big company.
I was shocked when one day the CEO of this large telecom company called a meeting. It was “Grill Bill”. He stood on stage in front of hundreds of employees and they could ask him anything.
This was a crazy experience for me as a young intern.
I watched this CEO field tough, and not so tough questions about the business, their future, workers pay, promotions, layoffs… I was shocked how up front he was.
But what I remember most… was his employees respected him. The chatter in the lunch room was positive… even when he delivered bad news.
Not everyone agreed with what he said, but to my eyes, he was laying the cards on the table. The idea of a hidden agenda just didn’t exist.
How do I deploy this idea in my own businesses?
Every Friday I do company wide calls.
On Fridays I do calls with everyone who works for me. It takes a long time… most of the day in fact. And every call is different. Some calls last 10 minutes… others take an hour. I jump on the call and I ask a few simple questions…
- What went right or wrong this week?
- What did you accomplish this week?
- What do I need to do to help you?
Those three questions really get the ball moving. Often times, our conversations take off in many different directions. Most of it is focused on work, but we also talk about life. I’ll go from giving sales advice, or motivating someone… to sharing how I’d get the best deal on a car.
No, it’s not always 100% business… and that’s OK.
I want my employees to call me for anything… and so should you.
I want to be a cheerleader and supporter, and most of all I want to be a trusted advisor.
It takes a lot of work, but the payoff is huge.
This leads me to my final view of a good leader…
Good Leaders Work Harder than Everyone Else.
This is a shock to many business owners… the reality of the world is… Employees will never care for a business as much as the owner does.
You as the business owner should have the biggest burning passion for your business… and that’s a light you need to share with your employees. Regardless of your passion…
You need to realize at 5 o’clock, many people check out.
They don’t check email at 10pm. They won’t jump on support calls on weekends. They won’t spend extra time meeting with customers, and updating websites!
But good leaders do all those things… and much much more.
And the best one’s don’t complain either.
I know it sucks. But realize you are trading your employee money for time. They have very little incentive to work harder, or weekends. And what that means is simple… when you find an employee who is working harder than others – It’s on you to reward them!
There you go. Seven keys to being a great leader. It’s often I’m asked, where to find good leaders for an organization…
Where do you find good leaders?
When you hire new employees, you want leaders.
Fundamentally, I believe great leaders are MADE, not born… and as a business owner you need to show leadership skills each and every day.
You need to be strong and supportive, honest and passionate. You need to work hard and set a vision.
That’s what makes a good leader.
And these are the same talents you should seek out in employees – especially in management positions.
One other thing… I’m always learning about leadership.
One of the best resources is biographies.
I’m always reading biographies of great men and women… Pick up those books and read! You’ll learn things that will amaze you. Leaders are far from perfect… and we all have our strengths and weaknesses.
Learning about other leaders will make you a better leader.
What do you think?
What makes a great leader? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me your thoughts.
In the next article, we’re going to cover lessons learned from text message marketing.
We’re going to go deep, because marketing is a critical component of every business… and one that’s often ignored.
To go to the next article: Click here