There’s a great proverb that gets to the heart of leadership:
“If you think you’re leading and no one is following you, then you’re only taking a walk.”– Chinese Proverb
It’s not enough to simply declare yourself a leader…or just to get hired into a leadership position. The act of leading requires specific skills and outcomes that move you and your organization forward. Without adding that value, it won’t be long before you find yourself alone on that walk.
For a business leader, here are the five things to focus on:
1. Make it Simple
As the leader, you not only need to see the big picture, but you must get to the essence of that big picture and simplify it down so the larger group can easily get on board. More than that, you need to constantly focus on simplifying what’s being done and how it’s being done. Complexity leads to chaos.
2. Leverage Strengths (your own and your team’s)
You’re good at a lot of things…but you’re not good at everything. Being an effective leader means you understand your own strengths and weaknesses and that you consistently play to your strengths. It also means that you understand how to effectively delegate and surround yourself with a team that complements your strengths. Your team should be much better than you are at many things.
3. Have a Clear Vision
You can’t lead without a destination. It’s your job as the leader to paint a clear picture of where you’re heading long term. That outcome will likely change over time, so creating a vision isn’t a one-time exercise, it’s an ongoing job.
Just as important as the long-term vision, you must also create the short-term road map of how you’re going to get there. What has to be accomplished this year? What are the highest priorities for the next 90 days? This is what keeps the team focused.
4. Drive to Create Systems
Brute force only gets you so far, so a big part of being an effective leader is identifying opportunities for creating leverage. Every business is a system of systems. There is a process you use to deliver your product or service. However, if that process isn’t documented, and if you haven’t looked for ways to improve it or automate it, then you’re not creating systems.
Typically it takes more work up front to document and improve processes than it does to just do it, which is why it’s a leadership effort to push your team to take the long-term view rather than the short-term path of least resistance.
5. Continually Build the Organization
Continued growth and success bring new challenges. What you did last year likely won’t continue to work without some changes. As the leader, you need to understand the big picture, understand the changes that need to be made to continue progressing and most importantly, understand how to build your team to address the new and improved ways of doing things.
Do you have the right people in the right seats? Are you structured in the best way for the challenges you have today? What challenges will you have tomorrow?
People do not manage businesses, systems do.
By keeping it simple, having a clear vision, focusing on strengths, driving and updating systems and continually building your organization, you will maximize your success. Continued strategic effort and laser focus will ensure improvement and your effectiveness. Remember there is no destination in leadership, there is no mountain top on which to perch. Instead, I maintain, there is an incredibly rewarding road with bumps and curves. The road will sometimes be lonely. But, with effort and attention to the above, YOU will achieve complete satisfaction in all YOU do. Remember……Purpose, Priority, Pride and Passion in all you do every day!
I Bet You Can!
Jeffrey A. Rogers, CPBC