31 May

It’s not just about the qualifications! – What it takes to be the leader

The other day I asked some of my coaching students “What do you think it takes to be the leader and to run a successful business?”.

Many of them said that the leader needed to be knowledgeable in all areas of business so that they would have the confidence to make the final and sometimes tricky decisions. The need for higher education and business experience also ranked very high.

I agree with this line of thought to some extent. Yes, they must be competent in business, however I have met many business owners who have acquired plenty of letters behind their names and yet they battle with being good leaders.

Why is that? Because it’s not just about the qualifications. I suggest that you consider these other factors as well:

1. Personal factors – Before you can start working on and improving a business, you need to be able to work on and improve yourself. The leader is never and should never be immune to critical review and change. How self-aware are you? How resilient are you to honest feedback and failure? An old boss of mine used to say that the crazier a situation got, the calmer you should be. I love that, as it encapsulates exactly what a leader should be in times of crisis. Rudyard Kipling said it best, 

“ If you can keep your head when about you

 Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,           

 If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,         

    But make allowance for their doubting too!”

        How well do you keep your head?

2. Leadership factors – Here are three factors that should be non-negotiable for all business leaders.

A good leader should have a leadership mindset, which is always focused on the business vision and how the team will achieve it.  What is your business vision and is it at the forefront of your action plans?

A good leader will never ask what’s best for them or a specific individual in the business. They will and should always ask, “what’s best for the business?”  

A good leader actively develops professional working relationships with all levels of employees within the business. Showing genuine interest and care in the team builds loyalty. Remember the old saying, that people don’t quit a job, they quit a boss. Wise leaders know that business success is not achieved without loyalty, buy-in and teamwork from everyone in the business.

3. Support factors – A good leader cannot operate successfully in a silo. They need a team of experts around them to be able to jump in and deliver when the leader calls on them.

How well do you know your team’s individual talents and expertise?

Besides your team, who else can you call upon to help you? As a leader you don’t need to be an expert in everything. You need to be able to put your ego aside and admit that you need guidance. That is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Don’t be short-sighted, its not just about the qualifications.

26 Jan

What does it take to build a sustainable business?

There is no such thing as a silver bullet strategy when it comes to business success , that being one action or activity that will miraculously build a successful business. We all intrinsically know this, but yet, so many business owners set themselves up for failure and disappointment by taking on for example the mindset of, “If I just do this one promotion, then everything will be fine.

Not to put a damper on your efforts, but sometimes we do need a reality check. One of the key components of achieving one’s goals is that you must be realistic, very simple. If you want to build a sustainable business and avoid being a one hit wonder there are a few key components you will need to ensure are part of your business structure and business ethics.

Vision and mission

Before you excitedly start setting business goals, think about what your long term vision is.  What is your ultimate goal and how do you want to be seen in five or ten years time? Once that has been defined then confirm your mission statement.

Completing your business vision/mission statement shouldn’t be done begrudgingly, rushed through or be viewed as an afterthought. Put the time aside to build this part of your business. Why? Your vision and mission are your guiding lights whenever a business decision needs to be made. They keep you focused in good times and very importantly  they guide you when times are tough and there will likely be many tough times in your business. Therefore, establishing strong, powerful and bright guiding lights makes good business sense.

Courage, resilience and grit

In my opinion these are probably some of the most important character traits to have when running a business . Having the strength and courage to pick yourself up after failure will turn you into a survivor. If you have the ability to do this, you can achieve anything. These character traits do not always come easily and we are often only asked to prove ourselves when we have already fallen on hard times. No opportunities for test driving these qualities.

To boost these character traits it is advised to have a solid business plan and a business purpose that is true to your values. It can be tricky and extremely demotivating to be courageous if you don’t really believe in your purpose one hundred percent.

Support

Being a business owner is not for the faint-hearted. So make sure you have a good strong pool of people you can call on during the tough times. This can take the form of business partners, family, friends, mentors, coaches or professional networking groups.

Support is also good to have in times of success, sharing your wins with your support network can be extremely rewarding.

Consistency

Consistency in business builds trust and loyalty with your customers. Whatever your business goals are make sure you are consistent in your delivery, follow through and follow up. Customers will very quickly look elsewhere if you are inconsistent and unreliable.

To make sure you are consistent in your business, always have a plan. Yearly, quarterly, month, weekly and daily. There is much to be said about the saying, “proper planning prevents poor performance”.

Business success will be different for every business, depending on what the end goals are, however one thing that all businesses have in common, is the need to achieve the goals.

So, when you are planning your goals for the year or quarter ahead, also think about these  components. Do you have a strong vision? How courageous are you and how would you persevere during tough times? Who is your support network and do you operate your business in a consistent manner? Some food for thought.