There are countless books and examples of inspirational individuals that have described good leadership. The underlying theme seems to be motivation. In my experience, the people that are best at motivating and inspiring others to follow also take time for themselves and lead by example.
I was lucky enough to have the best examples of leadership and mentors from the beginning of my career. The most ethical and motivating people you could ever hope to work with. I worked at a small tech company in Houston, TX. We developed a technology that lets public companies quickly disclose their financial information to the SEC. We also provided this service for customers. Every time a stockholder sold or purchased stock, they had to report this on a form called an 8-K. Every quarter companies file a quarterly report to all the shareholders called a 10-Q. Every year an annual notice discloses all company information on the 10-K. Each piece has precise deadlines; there can be no mistakes or deadlines missed. No insider information leaked, no drafts unrevised, and no errors in formatting. If you follow stock reports, you know these reports can impact companies. So deadline season was stressful!
There was stress, there were mistakes, and there were late nights.
However, we had the most dedicated, loyal, and motivated team I have ever worked with. The owners had the best attitudes, even in times of high STRESS! They were the first ones in the morning and the last to leave. They had an open-door policy and very high expectations for the entire company. You got to work and then got to work every day. You did everything you could to help the company succeed. And it did. We brought on more customers and grew that business to become a leader in the industry.
From daily routines to setting goals, leaders strive for healthy, active, and involved lifestyles. They are leaders on the job and give back to the community. In addition, they are quick to provide encouragement and constructive criticism of specific areas of improvement.
During conversations, they address concerns and listen, then validate and suggest.
Nothing is worse than having a meeting for feedback and being told, “You are doing great. Keep up the good work” That gives nothing to improve on, and everyone knows even the best person in the game needs to practice and keep improving.
Sometimes a business needs to change or restructure due to cash flow, management change, or to meet a new requirement. Conversations of downsizing, compensation changes, or changes to a team structure can be compassionate. I have seen good leaders take the time to do this right, and I have seen leadership do it very wrong. The attitudes at the top tend to set the stage for everyone in the chain of command and down. The best leaders provide direction. They plan a path to success and help everyone see the goal. There are no hidden agendas. People feel loyalty and will ride through the storm with the right leader.
Good leaders take time to learn the business.
I have seen restructuring more than I ever care for. There was a time I had new business cards made every year due to organizational changes. New CEO and VP from outside the company were brought in to shake things up. Investors wanting faster returns will appoint a new Chief Revenue Officer who knows nothing of the business, product, or customer. A good leader learns the company first.
That tremendous small tech company I worked for was acquired and, without exemplary leadership, was dissolved within five years.
As a business owner, communication is critical.
I have a few friends that are trend setters in their fields. They have come in, taken over, and won big. What makes them different than the other players? What degrees are they changing? What habits are they consistent with? How can we learn and improve our own game?
I will interview a few of these fantastic people on my next podcast. Stay tuned…