6 Keys to being a Great Leader

The economy is always changing, your customer base is growing and changing, and buying habits change. Your world is always changing, yet in many ways it remains the same, as business is still business. The reality is a combination, with the fundamentals of business mostly unchanged, yet the business environment completely different than ever before – not better or worse, just different. So how do you navigate your business and your team through the uncharted waters? It’s simple really…you must be the leader that your team and business needs and lead them through it. The first reaction I often get to that last statement is “but I’m not a great leader” or “leadership doesn’t come naturally to me”.

What Got You Here...

One of the biggest fallacies in the business world related to coaching is that coaching is for struggling businesses and business owners.  The reality is that this couldn’t be further from the truth!  Coaching works best for businesses and owners that have already reached a level of success, and are ready for the next level, which gets harder and harder as you grow.  Best Selling author and business thought leader Marshall Goldsmith’s book “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” is all about the challenges of moving up to new levels, and what you need to leave behind, to let go of, in order to take on the new challenges.  Let’s take a look at 3 of the most common growth challenges you might be experiencing despite your success.

The Cycle of Business

Many business owners find themselves in the trap of trying to do too much and not allowing their employees (team) to help them.  This is probably the single biggest inhibitor to growth that I have witnessed over the last eight years of coaching businesses – the failure of the owner to get out of the way, and to empower their team.  Too many owners feel that it is their responsibility to personally take care of everything, because “I can do it better” than anyone else.  All that this approach provides is the guarantee that you will be the busiest and least paid (on a per-hour basis) employee in your business, the only one who comes in early and stays late.  If you enjoy being a slave to your business and your customers, stop here.  If you need to get past that, read on.

Leadership vs. Management

Leading and managing - I often see and hear business owners and their staffs use these two words interchangeably, yet they are very different in extremely important ways.  While being a “manager” is quite often a formal job title with specific responsibilities and accountability, being a “leader” is not.  Here are some of the key differences between Leading and Managing. 

How to be a Great Delegator

As we grow our businesses, we need to grow our teams, and with that growth comes both excitement and fear.  One of the most common growth challenges I hear about is that owners/leaders struggle with delegation, and if they can’t get their team to do what they ask, they might as well do it themselves, right? Wrong!

Delegation is just one more skill to learn, and it really isn’t all that complicated to learn…

Overcoming Good Enough-itis

Many business owners find themselves in a similar place after a while – their business is doing pretty well and they are making a decent living, but there is something missing. They don’t feel as fulfilled at the office as they thought they would, and they feel like something is missing from the team. Everyone comes in, does their job, and takes pretty good care of the customers, yet the little things that would make it great never seem to get done unless you do them yourselves. When you begin to feel this, it most likely means you, your team, and your business have come down with a case of “Good Enough-itis”, where everyone performs just “good enough” to get by, but nobody excels.

Better Results through Clear Expectations

In my coaching sessions so far this week, the topic of Setting Expectations has come up several times.  It usually starts with, “So-and-so didn’t do what I expected again.”  My first question is almost always, “Are you sure he/she knew what you expected?”  The typical answer is “I think so…I told him/her a couple times.”  Does this pattern sound or look familiar to you?  Are you getting tired of this conversation yet?

The Keys to Peak Performance

As I returned from 2 days of training in the keys to peak performance at the US Olympic Training Center (USOTC) in Colorado Springs, and thought I would share some of what I learned from this amazing experience. The USOTC is home to some of the world’s finest coaches, trainers, sports psychologists, physical therapists, and yes, athletes. What we learned about elite athletes and how they train is directly relevant to how you can become an elite business owner.

Moving from Doing it All to Leading it All

Many of us started businesses that required us to do the work that generated the bulk of the revenues of our companies.  At some point, we then became the bottleneck in our businesses, as we only had so much capacity.  At this point we added team, and often we began working longer hours, because we could still “do it better” than the team we hired.  So they went home at 4:30, while we worked until whenever the work was done.  Sound familiar?  Well, it doesn’t have to be that way, and there are some simple steps to going from “Lead Doer” to “Leader of Doers”.

How to Hold Employees Accountable

Teaching people how to be accountable will take some time, but it is always worth it because they will improve for you on a steady basis long before they get to owning their accountability. The steps are fairly simple and straight-forward, just like most fundamentals of business. The key is to decide whether you want to be a great task master or a great leader.

Employee Engagement

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I think we can all agree that employees who are Highly Engaged in our business and their role in our business are highly desirable. However, how can we know how many (if any) of our team members are Highly Engaged? Well, a recent Gallup poll (2017) found that only 13% of employees world-wide are Highly Engaged and over twice that many, 27%, are Highly Disengaged. The remainder, the Disengaged, are simply along for the ride.

So what do “Highly Engaged” employees look like? Well, first of all, they are emotionally connected to your business. They buy into your Vision, Mission and Culture if you have one, and if you don’t have those your number of Highly Engaged Employees goes to zero quite fast. Highly Engaged employees are also collaborative and innovative. Does your work environment allow, encourage and foster that way of working? Or do strict rules and processes and outdated management styles stifle, or even worse, punish these characteristics?

Highly Engaged employees do the bulk of the productive (profitable) work in a consistent and sustainable way for you and pull all the dead weight (the Disengaged) along for the ride. The Highly Disengaged are your business’s anchors, holding everyone else back and costing you money every hour they work for you.

Further analysis of the data by Gallup calculates that the loss of productivity from Disengaged and Highly Disengaged employees is 34% of their salary! How long can you afford to lose 34% of the salaries of 87% of your team? If you are like most businesses, that model is unsustainable. These losses are both lost productivity from employees only going through the motions, and the costs of replacing the Highly Engaged employees who leave because they can’t stand it anymore. So what can you do to help your team become more engaged in your business? Well, there are four key areas to look at and improve to create an environment that encourages higher levels of engagement.

The first is Purpose – make sure every team member knows, understands, and lives the Vision, Mission, and Core Values/Culture of your company. Make sure they understand their role and your expectations of them. Second is creating a Culture of Excellence, rather than the typical culture of “Do Just Enough”. The third is creating a supportive culture, where leaders and peers alike have each other’s back. The fourth and last key is to create a culture that looks forward, challenges people to grow, to innovate, to continually improve. This creates lasting confidence in their ability to continue to thrive as part of your team.

To sum it all up, it takes an Engaged Workforce to Grow your Business. What are you doing to create one? For a Free Team Engagement Survey, go to Engage and Grow to request your confidential assessment. 

Author: Mark McNulty, Louisville Business Coach