Today, we’re going to talk about how to be a successful leader in business.

First, I’m going to share my favorite quote defining leadership, that I bet when you first hear….you won’t agree with it. Next I’m going to share what “nice” leadership actually leads to and lastly, I’m going to share the major thing that you need to keep your eyes on as a successful leader.

Okay, what is my favorite quote defining leadership. I know you’re not going to like it at first. I know I didn’t when I first heard it. It comes from a gentleman named Vern Harnish. Vern Harnish is the CEO of Gazelles and they are a scaling company. They work with Rackspace and Google. Vern has a book, Scaling Up (which is a humongous book), a little dry but has some really, really good information in it.

His quote around leadership is “a leader makes things easy.”

Now when I first heard that I’m thought, that doesn’t sound like leadership…..because a leader should inspire and a leader should pave the way and a leader should be the example.

Well if you think about business and leadership in this manner……if a leader makes things easy. First makes things easy for who? Customers and employees.  The leader that does the level of thinking that makes things easy for their customers is a successful leader. If they’re constantly innovating ways to have their customers have easier experiences using their product or utilizing their services and having the employees follow systems that anyone can do…they are a successful leader. 

This reminds me of Michael Gerber’s book The E-Myth. In The E-Myth, (Michael is amazing….I had the opportunity to spend an hour with him last week, he’s incredible) there’s a line in that I really hold as a trainer. As a teacher, a trainer, a coach, I hold on to this line.  He says, “the most successful franchises are successful because they’ve been designed to be run by the person with the lowest level of skill.” Now, that doesn’t mean the person running the thing is the lowest level of skill. If you design things in a manner that the person that has the lowest level of skill is able to do it, then that’s going to be a successful business and you are a successful leader.

If everything that you, your clients and customers do requires a high level of skill, you’re not doing your job. You need to figure out, “how” you can make it easier for them. How do you make it through a device or through a counter or meal prep or whatever, whoever, you’re leading. Your employees, customers and clients. How do you make their life easier? That’s a leadership challenge you should step into.

What is “nice” leadership?

What do I mean by “nice” leadership?

I’m not saying to be mean but “nice” where you’re not willing to have tough conversations means…. Nothing Inside me Cares Enough.

I know this because I’ve been that guy. I’ve been the “nice” leader. I know that an employee, or someone in my business isn’t doing their job or they’re not following directions. I’ve been the nice leader that let it slide and didn’t work to help correct them or have the tough conversations. 100% of the time that was a mistake. Now, don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean that you have a mean conversation. It’s not a mean conversation, but if I care about them and their integrity and their longevity in the business then I need to be willing to have those tough conversations. I need to be willing and this is the same with clients.

I had a client once that paid me $50,000 for me to coach him. For whatever reason, he treated my employees like crap. He was rude to them (he wasn’t rude to me, but he was rude to them) and demanding of them, he was accusing them of things. So I told him, “this isn’t going to work. I’m not going to let you treat them like that.” It didn’t improve, so I gave him his fifty thousand dollars back. That was the most serving thing I could have done for him. He actually did a thank you video to me because he knew how he was showing up, he knew he treated people like crap…but no one had ever called him out on it. No one had ever been bold enough to say “hey take your money, we are not going to work with you.” That actually served him.

When you step into the realm of leadership and have to have the tough conversations, you’re actually caring about them. Where else is that going to serve them? Of course you run the risk that they won’t receive it or that they’ll be offended, mad or angry. That may be an indication that they’re not coachable. Do you want them in your organization or as customer or a client? For me, if someone’s not coachable as a customer, as a client or as an employee then they shouldn’t be in my business. I’m going to serve them by helping them go find one that will be a fit for them because mine is not.

What is the one thing you need to keep your eyes on as a leader? 

Here is the one thing that you need to keep your eye on as a leader. This may sound funny but it is your personalities!

I learned from Michael Gerber, I love his work, he’s amazing. The person that launches a business is usually the technical or tactical person. They work for someone, they thought they could do a better job, they didn’t like their pay or their freedom or whatever so they launched their own business only to discover that now they’re working double and making less. Right? That’s very, very typical of most people that start a business. Well…..Michael Gerber suggests that we all as a business owner, we have three personalities.

We have the entrepreneur. What’s the role of the entrepreneur? The entrepreneur’s role is to paint the vision of where we are going, to see the future…what will it look like, how will it impact people, how will it solve problems and what value are we bringing to the marketplace. It’s to have that high level view of “what is the company here to do.”

Then we have the manager. That’s the person that’s dealing with the present…. what are the numbers, what are the metrics, what are the stats, what is the return on this employee? Some people don’t like to think that way but you need to look at your expenses and ask yourself is this contributing to the bottom line, is it contributing to where we’re going or is this just a straight expense? You need to put on your “manager hat” and look at your numbers, know your numbers, don’t be surprised by your numbers.

The reason I want to bring that up is….for many years, I was not a good manager. I did not know my numbers, I just kind of showed up. I did my tactical technical stuff which is training and coaching and I just hoped that everything would work out. Sometimes it did, sometimes it didn’t. The manager knows the numbers. Are you over last year, are you spending more, are you making less? You need to know those numbers. It’s something that you can certainly hire someone to do, but you need to know the numbers. You need to be learning from the bookkeeper that you do hire and know those numbers to know where to take the business.

Finally we have the technical or tactical person. The person that can do the thing that your business does. When the most skilled plumber leaves their job to start their own plumbing business (because they’re sick and tired of that “stupid boss” that never lets them have weekends off) what they often find is the technical people that they hire, the other plumbers, right? They don’t do as good a job, so they end up saying “let me take over.” Now you don’t have a business, you’re back to having a job, you’re back to doing all the technical and tactical work.

Understanding these personality types and how they often conflict is going to change your business. The entrepreneur wants freedom, they want to be able to dream up the big vision of where we’re going. The manager is very frustrated by the crazy visions of the entrepreneur and is like “hey man, we need to first deal with this and make this process really good.” The technical…they don’t want to fill out reports they just want to do their work. They were happy plumbing or making pies or whatever and they don’t want to deal with all this other stuff that they have to deal with as a business owner.  If you don’t understand those different levels then you’re going to struggle in one or all of them which will lead to the collapse of your business.

We would love to help you be a better leader in whatever business that you’re in. We have a free consultation. Here is the link to sign up for it. 

You can fill that out and get a free consultation from our company where we’ll ask you some (they may be tough) questions to help determine where need the most help as a leader.

Ray Higdon

Play Bigger. Make An Impact.

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