Through growth, adversity and achievement, entrepreneurs wear many hats. To successfully scale a company, business leaders need to make the transition from “entrepreneur” to “professional,” and from an entrepreneurial company to a professional company.
Often, a singular leader leads in a singular fashion and it’s all about one person’s goals. As a leader of a growing group of talented individuals, I have discovered the value of thinking and leading more globally. There’s a saying: “Human beings hallucinate when not communicated to.” As a company grows, a leader needs to, early and often, address any undertones or rumblings that take place culturally within an organization. Our leadership team developed a weekly company-wide, interactive video conference to connect the hearts of our team. We talk about what’s working, share information and ideas, and address challenges to gain genuine perspective and rapport. It’s a time to ask transparent questions and it allows the organization to be authentic. This provides the whole group access to leaders and creates trust. It reminds every one of our company’s purpose and the principles that enable our customers to enjoy doing business with us.
The world and corporate America want us to treat employees like numbers, to fit them in a box and define rigid lines. Leaders are faced with balancing people with profits and social value with economic value. My mentality is to dig deep with my leadership team and the employees. What drives them? What is their big “why?” Why do they come to work? Why do they do what they do? Our leaders are taught to go “three deep” by asking the questions that delve through the layers of what motivates them by asking each person individually “Why?” Why they do what they do? This allows for deep emotional connections and creates loyalty. We want to hire leaders who are willing to create meaningful work with their team. We look for those that are willing to go three deep and discover in their own teams what really drives their people.
Good leaders understand how to balance passion with pragmatic, professional and well-thought-out business fundamentals. But to become an outstanding leader in our organization, we are searching for someone fulfilled by contribution. Most leaders have learned the value of leading with integrity and hard work. Along with those valuable principles, we look for leaders that are driven by love and growth. Those two driving forces have the purposeful depth to really touch the hearts of our team and ignite true passion.
As an example, sales leaders can be selfish with a “What have you done for me lately?” mentality. We want leaders on our team to come from a mindset that includes teaching, coaching, inspiration and love. They know how to show others how to be successful, find purpose and gratitude in helping propel others forward. They have discovered the art of being humble and vulnerable, while bringing strength to instill drive and hunger within their team. This is the type of person who adds tremendous value to creating and leading a purposeful culture.
I’ve been asked, “Are leaders born or are they taught?” The answer is, they evolve through seeing more and feeling more. At some point in our lives, most of us begin to have compassion for others. We begin to think more in-depth about our legacy and it stops being about us and more about making an impact on the lives of others.
When I was 28-years-old, someone asked me what is my legacy going to be? In thinking about it, I wondered how I made my work matter to really make a positive difference. How do I focus my efforts to live a fulfilled purpose-driven life as a leader? I have seen people in their 60s and 70s and they still don’t get it. You become a real leader when you are more focused on others—when you’re willing to make their needs your needs. This breakthrough typically happens depending on your own maturity, wisdom and level of awareness. When a person’s efforts are focused on doing good and contributing to the greater good of others, you have the foundation of a leader.
The keys to successful leadership
►Design strategies and recipes for success: Create rituals and a culture of inspiring fun, as well as company achievements. Focus on replicating things that work. To scale a company forward, you have to find the strategies that allow successful people to be successful.
►Be transparent and genuine: Share accurate perspectives of the company and its future. For a team to make educated decisions they have to be aware of what’s going on.
►Find your personal best and design incentives for others to find their best selves: It takes competition off the table and allows employees to design a path to their own personal best goals.
►Borrow best practices from other successful companies: Engage in site visits and learn what other organizations do to maintain success in business and in culture. It allows you to get outside your own four walls and see what others are doing. You can then borrow those best practices and it gives leadership a different lens to view their world.
Leaders must hold strongly to the things they do uniquely well and outsource or empower others to lead the other tasks. Just like a kite, you let the string out and bring it back in at times. If performed correctly, the result is you get lift. There is an art in when to let go and knowing when to reel it back in and have conversations to make sure the team continues to fly straight. The balance is empowering a leadership team to gain autonomy so they can make key decisions to grow the business while knowing when to reel everyone in to ensure that the vision and direction are aligned. There are moments when you realize there are too many initiatives going on and it becomes highly distracting. In the theory of “you can do anything, but not everything” or “often those who try to do too much achieve too little,” you must learn to guide a team to accomplish specific goals and remain aligned to effectively achieve successful results.
A successful leader has a mindset that sets the stage for others to follow. Your energy is their energy. Your passion is their passion. If you have no energy or passion, then the organization has no energy or passion. My constant goal is to inspire people to do what they love to do, to help them find meaning or a purpose that motivates them to succeed in life. Effective leaders enable others to discover themselves and what they contribute … both to their own lives and the lives of others. I am inspired by the energy and enthusiasm that our team brings to the communities in which we serve. Now more than ever, our leadership team values the importance of giving back and the power of connecting the hearts of others to change people’s lives in a positive way.