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.

25 Apr

What is your competitive advantage?

When I ask business owners “What is your competitive advantage?” they are very quick to provide a long list including their pricing structure, advanced technology or the quality of their raw materials. These are all good and well, but it is seldom that I hear them highlight their people as a competitive advantage in their business. 
Why is that? Why do business owners overlook probably one of the most important assets in their business? 

Perhaps it’s because working with human beings is damn hard work and if not managed correctly, employees can hinder business process and business success. However if you treat, respect and manage you team well and look upon them as an asset, it can be one of the best things you could do for your business. High-performing, focused and motivated employees can be an exceptionally difficult resource to imitate. This allows your business to stand out in the crowd and yes, good company culture attracts positive clients. 

So how do you move your human resources, your employees from just being a resource in your business, or filling up a seat, to actually performing and living up to the position’s and business’s expectations? How do you get the most out of your team so they can be seen as a sustainable competitive advantage?
Gallup has provided us with the statistics that only 15% of the global workforce is engaged at work. Just imagine if you could increase this percentage. What would that do for you and your business? What would happen if you started treated your people like key assets, how would that change their attitudes and engagement levels? 

Well, firstly it starts with you. Understanding your role as a business owners. You are the visionary, whether you like it or not. You are the main driver in your business. You are not just working in the buisness anymore, you are working on the business, guiding, directing, disciplining and coaching your team. Yes, that is your job.

Secondly, understanding that your human being plan is as or even more important than your marketing and financial plans. Without incredible people working to their optimum, you can market your business until the sun don’t shine and you will get nowhere. It’s a mindset change. Think people first. How can you get them engaged, focused and loving their jobs. This will only motivate them to work harder and smarter for you and the business. Then move to your marketing plan. 

If your team is not currently a competitive advantage in your business, you are missing out. What do you need to change to make this happen?