“People cannot be managed. Inventories can be managed, but people must be led.” -H. Ross Perot
For many years now I’ve wrestled with the question, “What do followers really want from their leaders?” In that time, I’ve read several good resources, but my most valuable insights have come from conversations and my own personal experiences.
I’m convinced that everything rises and falls on leadership. I think most people know this intuitively, and that’s why most people hunger for good leadership – whether it be in business, in non-profit organizations, in churches, in the community, in government, everywhere!
Here are 5 attributes that followers want from their leaders.
Protect and Nurture Trust
In the classic book, Leaders: The Strategies for Taking Charge, authors Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus state:
“Trust is the emotional glue that binds followers and leaders together. The accumulation of trust is a measure of the legitimacy of leadership. It cannot be mandated or purchased; it must be earned. Trust is the basic ingredient of all organizations, the lubrication that maintains the organization, and, as we said earlier, it is as mysterious and elusive a concept as leadership – and as important.”
My experience has told me that most leaders underestimate this critical component of leadership. They assume they have more trust than is a reality. Therefore they are not conscious and intentional about building trust.
How do we protect and nurture trust? Well, it’s not really that hard. Be honest. Be respectful and kind but be direct. Don’t communicate in wishy-washy or nebulous language. Respectfully say what you mean and mean what you say.
Be thoughtful of others. Be a “servant-leader.” Be consistent. When your followers can predict your behavior based on your values – that’s a good thing! Being consistent and predictable builds trust for the servant-leader.
Most of all, solicit and listen to feedback. Your number one job as a leader is to build and nurture trust!
We expect our leaders to have a sense of direction and a concern for the future of the organization. The best leaders have a clear picture in their minds of what the company or organization will look like in the near future.
Most people do not want (or trust) 20-year plans. The world changes too fast nowadays for us to put too much emphasis on extremely long-range planning. But people do want to know what the next 12 to 36 months is going to look like. And they want something “big” to aspire to that may or may not be totally achievable but is certainly worth pursuing!
It is the job of the leader to set or select a desirable destination toward which the organization should head. And it must be a destination that others want as well. It’s the leader’s role to describe that future to us in rich detail so that we will “feel” it, and we will know the best route for getting there.
Every good vision begins with a problem. Vision by definition is a picture of a preferred future. That means there is something about the “present” that is less desirable or “unpreferred.” Ask yourself, what would make life better or more meaningful for the people within our company or organization? What would make life better for the customers or people we serve? How can we impact our industry or our community in a meaningful way? What could that “preferred future” be?
Once identified and shared by all, the leader must communicate it over and over again. In the book Leading Change, author John Kotter says that the average leader under-communicates vision by a factor of 10. My experience tells me this is true. Good leaders are always looking for new stories, new metaphors, new ways to communicate their vision. And they repeat it constantly.
You cannot command commitment, you can only inspire it. Good leaders breathe life into what are the hopes and dreams of others. They enable their followers to see the exciting possibilities that the future holds.
But for this to happen, you must first know and listen to your followers. What are the concerns and problems they see? Do they know that you know and care? Without this relationship, this emotional connection, you will have difficulty inspiring others.
Once connected with the hearts and hopes of your followers, you can paint a future for them that is meaningful. But to inspire them, you must be passionate about it yourself. They must see and experience your passion and energy for what you do and where you’re leading them.
Your passion and energy is contagious. If connected with the hearts and hopes of your followers, your passion and energy will inspire them.
Enable Others to Act
Once you achieve a shared vision, it is then your responsibility to empower and enable your followers to take initiative and to act. How you behave as a leader, what you recognize and reward, and how you handle your disappointments are key here.
Your followers reflect you as they perceive you. If you don’t like what you see in your followers, you must look in the mirror and ask yourself, “How am I contributing to their behavior and perspective?” You must take extreme ownership of your culture, which includes the relationships and behaviors of your followers. You can’t control others, but you are a powerful influence as a leader if you have their trust. (Maybe you need to review point #1!)
Followers must believe that their leader knows what he or she is doing. They must see the leader as capable and effective. Having a winning track record is the surest way to be considered competent.
The type of competence that followers look for will vary from situation to situation. Competence does not necessarily refer to the leader’s technical abilities in the core technology of the business. But followers do expect their leader to be able to get things done for the organization.
The leader does not have to always have the answer either. Sometimes in a crisis or unexpected situation, the followers just expect their leader to give them reassurance that they’ll figure it out and make it through successfully.
This means the leader must be a learner. The leader must know and accept their personal strengths and weaknesses, and they must know how to leverage the strengths of others. If a leader is perceived as a reflective thinker and learner who figures things out and gets things done, followers will typically view them as competent and will even follow them into the unknown.
How to Run a Growing Business is our course for business owners who are ready to take their business to the next level. Let us guide you in the Business Acceleration Process – to create a scalable, profitable, turn-key business that can run practically without you.
Wise business owners know that there is great value in planning. As a result, they take the time to create and maintain a business plan. However, it is helpful to realize that there are at least 3 different types of business plans. Each plan serves a different purpose. Here they are.
Start Up or Refocusing Plan
This is a detailed plan that helps you think deeply about your business and where you see it going long-term. This is the plan that most people are familiar with. This plan typically takes days and often weeks to develop. It requires much research and analysis and may be relevant for up to 5 years. It is the type of plan I recommend for people who are just starting a business or whose business is at a major transition or refocusing time. I am not going to go into detail about this business plan but here are the major sections that must be included:
Business Overview/Company Summary
Products and Services
Marketing Strategy and Implementation
In this Start-Up or Refocusing Plan, there will be much research and thought behind each of these 9 sections, with much detail written down. As a result, this plan may be anywhere from 25-75 pages in length.
As mentioned, when most established business owners think of a “Business Plan” this is what they have in mind. As a result most feel overwhelmed and paralyzed, concluding that their time is best spent just getting the work done. While I believe that this type of analysis and detail is critical in a startup or major transition, I do not suggest that business owners try to tackle this much detail every year. I recommend an Annual Growth Plan instead.
A Financial Plan – which is a budget projected out by month for the next 12 months. You will want to project your income and your expenses for each month. As you proceed through your year you will evaluate each month’s actuals to its budget/projected. By doing this you can make adjustments as necessary as you go through the year.
A Marketing Plan– which is what drives your Financial Plan. There are at least 5 components to a good marketing plan: Description of your Ideal Customer, Your U.S.P. (Unique Selling Proposition), Your Marketing Mediums, Your Marketing Budget, and Your Marketing Calendar.
An Operations Plan – which takes into account the 7 basic processes in every business. Goals are then set to improve each of the 7 processes.
This Annual Growth Plan is no more than 3 pages (one page for each section) and can be completed throughour guided process in just a few hours.This should be completed every year, and then performance should be tracked against the plan.
Scenario Planning is a technique that is used when a company is in a rapidly changing or an unpredictable industry or environment. I guide business owners through a process centered around the “critical drivers” (those 2 or 3 things that will determine the future) and probabilities. Using this technique, business leaders are able to create the 3-5 most likely scenarios of the future and then map out a tentative plan of action for each scenario. This is not exhaustive but it gives the business owner an immediate starting point and plan of action if/when the scenario takes place. I have found this approach very helpful in the past couple of years working with people in the health insurance and health care fields.
Much more can be said about each of these. However, this should give you a basic overview of how you can begin thinking about business planning. Are you looking for some guidance in what kind of planning you should be involved in? Contact us today to see how we can help!
How to Run a Growing Business
How to Run a Growing Business is our flagship course for business owners who are ready to take their business to the next level. It contains everything you need to know about creating a scalable, profitable, turn-key business in this online course.
First, there are the TECHNICIANS. These are the men and women who do all or most of the work themselves. That’s all they know to do. They think owning the business is just about doing the “technical” work. If they own a plumbing business, they do all the plumbing. If they own a CPA Firm, they do most, if not all, of the accounting. If they own an HVAC services company, they are the primary A/C technician, taking calls and doing the work.
However, I’ve also discovered 3 other types that start businesses.
Type 2: Creatives
The second kind is CREATIVES. These are the men and women who sell new ideas or creative works. Their creative works may be in design fields, or they may be in the areas of technology, music, media, motivation, or ideas.
My experience has been that these creatives start some of the highest money-making businesses I’ve seen IF they don’t get caught in the trap of micro-management (i.e. technician work.) While technicians are not typically creatives, almost all the creatives I’ve worked with are artist types who have “technician” tendencies.
I call them “1 and 10” leaders.
They can work on a very high, creative level (e.g. “10”) or a very low “technical” level (“1”), but have great difficulty working on levels 2-9, which are critical for implementation. The most successful creatives I’ve known get good “operations” people around them to help them execute. And when they get the right people around them, they can produce at a very high level. Gino Wickman, in his book Traction, calls these operations people “Integrators.”
The most successful and dynamic leaders I’ve known tend to be creatives.
Types 3 and 4: Managers and Leaders
The third and fourth types are MANAGERS and LEADERS. Leaders tend to work on a more strategic level while managers tend to work on a more process and systems level. Leaders inspire and set direction. Managers manage people, processes, and systems.
With that said, most small business owners tend to be technicians who need to learn how to be managers and leaders. See my post “The 3 Levels of Work.” I’ve found this is very doable! However, every once in a while I meet the “creative” type. They are typically the most challenging for me as a business coach to work with but always have the greatest earning potential.
One of the more recent creatives I’ve worked with started a business with a “new idea.” In just 8 short years he sold it for a 9-digit figure! Honestly, I don’t think people can be taught to be creatives. I think they are born that way!
If you are a “Creative” who owns a business, contact me. I can help you realize your full potential!
I remember reading the book and thinking about how “revolutionary” it was for owners of small businesses. I found myself going back to it from time to time to help me think strategically. My wife and I both grew up in family-owned businesses and we were very appreciative of the struggles and opportunities of business ownership. So when I read E-Myth, it was like gold to me! However, I found myself needing to review it periodically because it was such a different mindset than I was used to.
Revisiting the E-Myth
In 2001 the book was republished under the title The E-Myth Revisited; however, the content was relatively unchanged. By that time I had started and sold a business, started a consultancy, and started several non-profit organizations. Still today I go back and review it.
A few years ago, I had the privilege of meeting Michael Gerber and spending some personal time with him. A while back I had the privilege of being with him again. He is an amazing man with amazing insight. His message was the same message he’s been preaching since beginning E-Myth in 1977.
Most small businesses are not started by entrepreneurs, but by technicians who suffer from an entrepreneurial seizure. Every business owner needs to ask him/herself, “What’s my business here to do?” Every business is here to find resolution, completion. We must have the mindset that I am creating a company to sell. I’m in business to create. My business is my creation, my product. If you’re truly an entrepreneur, you are a master of business design. Learn to spend more time working “on” your business and less time working “in” your business.
Gerber’s 7 Steps to Develop Your Business
I could go on but you probably get the idea. According to Michael, great businesses are not built by genius, but by determination! Every day the great business owners rise above the limitations that everyone else lives under! Michael shared the 7 steps of business development that he wrote about in 1986, the 7 steps that he continues to teach today:
KNOW YOUR PRIMARY AIM IN LIFE. Your business is an extension of YOU! It should serve you and your life goals. So you must know yourself. You must know your primary aim in life.
DEFINE YOUR STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE. What do you want to get out of this business? This is typically things like money, freedom, opportunity, etc. Don’t lose sight of this!
CREATE YOUR ORGANIZATIONAL CHART. This is the foundation of building a turnkey business. You must know what each role and function is in your business. You build your systems from this.
DEVELOP YOUR MANAGEMENT SYSTEM. Every problem and every function in your business must be defined from the perspective of a system. Great business owners realize that they manage their businesses by managing their systems. This assures that the product will be consistent, predictable, and profitable.
CREATE YOUR PEOPLE DEVELOPMENT PROCESS. You can’t really develop a training program until you have a system. Once you define and document your system, then you can create a training process to empower your people and enable them to succeed.
DESIGN YOUR MARKETING SYSTEM. This is the key to success in every business. A business will not survive without marketing. You must have this!
IMPLEMENT A COMPREHENSIVE SYSTEMS STRATEGY. Learn to see everything in your business as a system. Once everything is systematized, you can walk away from it. You can sell it. You can relax. You can do anything you want to do!
Every business coach (and business owner) today owe a deep sense of gratitude to Michael for opening the door to this conversation. It has been my privilege (and continues to be my privilege) to work with business owners, helping them grow their businesses, create turnkey businesses that give them both time and money, and helping them create sellable businesses.
How to Run a Growing Business
How to Run a Growing Business is our flagship course for business owners who are ready to take their business to the next level. It contains everything you need to know about creating a scalable, profitable, turn-key business in this online course.
One of the reasons executives and business owners hire a coach is for accountability. I hear my clients comment that this is a huge value that they receive from our coaching relationship. But I need to be honest about something here; I cannot hold anyone accountable. Let me explain.
Most people equate accountability with bad behavior, poor performance, and negative consequences. Business owners and managers often talk about their need to do a better job of holding their people accountable. The idea here is that someone should be responsible for imposing consequences when tasks fail to get done or goals are not accomplished.
As an employer you certainly have the right to hire and fire, and you have the right to reward or impose negative consequences within reason. This is sometimes referred to as “positional power.” I have the power to enact consequences (good or bad) because of my position (i.e. boss or owner.)
As a coach, I have no “positional power.” But yet, my clients feel like I hold them accountable. Why is that?
The truth is that all of us have freedom of choice. My clients can choose to follow my advice or not. My clients can choose to hire me or fire me. So how do I hold them accountable?
Accountability and Freedom of Choice
We must understand that freedom of choice is actually the foundation of accountability. Sometimes we think we “have-to” do something. But honestly, there are no “have-to’s.” Everything we do in life is a choice. Even in an environment where there are requirements of you, you still have choice.
Also, there are always consequences to our choices. We do not need someone from the outside imposing consequences to make us do something. We act because we choose to act, and the consequences fall where they may.
What’s my point?
The point is that accountability is about ownership. It’s about owning your choices and owning your outcomes. I choose to do things that I may not particularly want to do in the moment, because I know they will lead to other things that I truly want! In other words, those choices get me the outcomes I want.
Accountability is About Ownership
So, in reality, no one can really “hold me accountable.” I must hold myself accountable. I must take ownership of my outcomes and my future.
Can others help me? Absolutely. They can encourage me. They can remind me of the outcomes and future that I want. They can create checkpoints and reminders to help me to not lose focus on the things I REALLY want. They can be a sounding board to help me navigate frustration, discouragement, or difficulty.
Others are very important to me. But first, I must own my goals and my choices. And, I must own my outcomes. And when my outcomes fall short of what I really want, I must own the task of learning from my shortfalls. And I must own the challenge of trying again. John Maxwell calls this “failing forward.”
If I take ownership in this way, I am holding myself accountable. If and when I think I need it, I solicit others (e.g. a coach) to help me hold myself accountable. They don’t really hold me accountable, they help me hold myself accountable. They don’t own my outcomes, I own my outcomes and I solicit their help so that I am better equipped to achieve my goals.
Making Accountability Work for You
Do yourself a favor. Get clear on the outcomes you want in business and life. Face reality and be honest with yourself. Make a plan that will move you toward your goals. Then execute with focus and consistency.
If you need help gaining clarity and setting goals, hire a coach.
If you need help creating a realistic action plan to achieve your goals, hire a coach.
If you need support and encouragement and guidance in order to stay on track, hire a coach.
With intentionality and discipline, most people can accomplish these things on their own. But a coach will likely help you be more effective and efficient in achieving your vision. Contact us for a free, no pressure consultation to see if coaching with us might be right for you.
My mission is to empower business owners to achieve exceptional performance in their businesses and their lives.
One primary way I accomplish this is to re-educate and re-focus business owners to lead more and work less. If they can understand this concept, they will be able to enjoy greater freedom, financial success, and happiness.
In short, I’m trying to get owners and entrepreneurs to think and act strategically and effectively.
Too many owners are gifted technicians but not very effective as strategic leaders. They are really good at doing the work of the business, but not very experienced in leading the business. If you are not leading in your business, who is? If you are not being strategic, who is? If you are not proactive, who is? If you’re not thinking and planning for the future, who is?
How do you know if you’re a strategic business leader?
To find out if you are you a strategic business owner, ask yourself the following questions:
Do I see the big picture and have a long-term view?
Do I conduct one-on-one monthly coaching sessions with my managers and/or key employees?
Do I avoid getting buried in the day-to-day details and headaches of the business?
Have I shaped my business more by design than by default?
If you answered “no” to most of these questions, you are operating as a tactical, reactive business owner. You could benefit greatly from becoming a strategic business leader.
A strategic business leader gets the highest and best return possible for his/her time, money and effort. He/she focuses on working smarter, not harder. I can help you work less and make more. Contact your Houston Business Coach today!
The marketplace today is vastly different than it was two years ago. In fact, it’s different than it was just six months ago. Some businesses are struggling while others are thriving – what makes the difference between an ordinary business and an extraordinary business? Between a business that thrives, no matter the shifts, and one that folds?
For most business owners and sales professionals, it boils down to 2 things: Mindset and Behaviors!
When a shift occurs in the marketplace, confusion usually follows. Consumers are confused, investors are confused, and businesses are confused. This confusion leads to fear. The most important thing for entrepreneurs and leaders at this time is to focus on the fundamentals.
Focus On Your Mindset
The first fundamental is mindset. Know that there is still business to be had! Know that there are new opportunities available now that were not available in the recent past. Know that growth comes from clarity, focus, and strategic action.
In what ways do you need to elevate your mindset?
What kind of beliefs will lead you to success?
What limiting beliefs are holding you back?
The Law of Belief says, “Whatever you believe, with conviction, becomes your reality.” Look at your situation. What does that say about your beliefs? The most powerful, but often most unconscious contributor to our success or failure is our mindset. Henry Ford summed it up well when he said: “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”
Along with Belief is the Law of Concentration, which says, “Whatever you dwell upon, grows and expands in your life.” During uncertain economic times, our mindset and beliefs will be the deal-breaker! Get rid of “head trash” and make sure your mind is set for success.
Focus on Your Behaviors
The second fundamental is behavior or habits. Brian Tracy said it well stating, “Successful people simply practice successful habits.” It really is that simple! Identify the behaviors that produce success, and practice them consistently. They will become successful habits.
While this is simple, it is not easy. We are often creatures of “unsuccessful” habits, and we typically avoid facing reality. In addition, in a shifting marketplace, we discover that what worked yesterday often doesn’t work today. We must be ruthlessly honest with ourselves. We must identify those fundamental successful behaviors, and practice them relentlessly.
As we see shifts happening, go back to the fundamentals of mindset and behaviors. Consider hiring a business coach to help you gain clarity and focus. The right coach can help you turn a dismal trend into growth and success.
As far as business growth strategies go, one we always come back to is marketing. The reason for this repetitiveness is that marketing has many facets. In fact, marketing is often THE sole system that holds business growth back. It’s also the one system that can propel your business into dynamic growth.
Although we work in many different industries, we are all in the same business: the marketing business. When we accept this unavoidable truth, then we can turn our attention to taking action. We can become marketing experts and create what I call a “marketing engine” for our unique business.
A marketing engine is simply a set of strategies and tactics that consistently deliver a specified number of qualified leads. In other words, you know that if you execute tactic “A” each month, you will produce “X” number of leads each month. All you have to do is start the engine and then keep it running!
Unfortunately, many business owners do not know where their next sale is coming from. They do not know what marketing tactics will keep them alive, much less what tactics will enable them to grow. By creating a marketing engine, you will know how to actually produce new customers. Then to increase your number of customers for business growth, you will simply need to rev up your marketing engine. If you need to slow it down to keep up with the growth, you just bring the engine to a lower gear.
As a business coach in Houston, Sugar Land, and Richmond, I receive a tremendous amount of gratification from helping business owners create their own marketing engine so they can rev up or slow down their number of leads each month. I would be very pleased to serve you in your efforts to establish a consistent marketing system. Contact us today about setting up a no-cost strategy session to work on your marketing engine.
As a business owner and entrepreneur, you have many responsibilities. One of the most important is the successful execution of a sales process. One of your main goals as a business owner is to make a profit…and you can’t make a profit if you can’t make sales! However, this is easier said than done. When it comes to successful sales, business owners have 2 key responsibilities.
The entrepreneurial side of you should be continually looking for ways to improve your own personal selling effectiveness. You should be seeking out resources on becoming better – books, seminars, webinars, sales training, events, online courses.
In addition, the owner side of you should be continually looking for ways to improve the overall selling effectiveness of your team and company. How will you ensure that your salespeople are improving? How can they increase their effectiveness in selling?
Although they are two different areas of responsibility, you can apply documentation and collaboration to combine them into one successful sales system.
If your selling process is in your head, then it’s not a process – it’s only an idea. However, if you put your steps on paper, your selling process becomes an asset!
Have you documented your own process yet? Take some time to write down the steps you take when you sell. How do you prospect? How do you do the initial call? How do you follow up? What questions do you ask? How do you close? How do you make sure customer fulfillment takes place?
You also need to think about how you have documented the process of your company’s sales training. Every wise business owner documents every aspect of this critical business system for training purposes and to have consistent, reliable results.
You should also build a team of employees, contractors, referral sources, and partners who can effectively sell for you. Then, take time to regularly ask yourself and your team how you can sell better. Remember that the sales process is the lifeblood of any company, so you should always try to improve this critical function. The more effective your selling process is, the better your business will become!
As a business coach and a sales coach, I help business leaders successfully wear these two hats in the selling process. With the right documentation and collaboration, they have taken their businesses to a new level!
Take action today and assess your sales process. If you need help, contact us. You’ll be glad you did!
Want to improve your selling? Get our Free Ebook 7 Secrets to Selling Success
“Most folks are about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” – Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was right. Your happiness and mine depend largely on how willing you and I are to be happy. And our willingness includes the time that we are willing to dedicate to stepping away from our business, having fun, and simply enjoying life.
However, if you are like most business owners, you probably don’t plan for and schedule out enough time to have fun. And if you do get a chance to have fun, it happens in the margins, every once and a while, or not even at all. You may end up neglecting your hobbies, your family, your friends, your pets, and – most of all – yourself.
Most owners I meet are striving for some kind of balance in their lives. But you have most likely realized that if you do not make time for fun, if you don’t intentionally plan for time off, the balance in your life will not happen on its own.
A Recipe For Burnout
Heed this advice: Having NO FUN is a guaranteed recipe for disaster and burnout!
You need to make fun happen – it is not an optional part of our lives. We as business coaches want you to make it happen. Planning time for fun means that you are planning time into your life to gain balance, to experience joy, and to avoid burnout. To do these things, you need to get away from the business and do some things you enjoy that re-energize you.
Think about the people, things, and activities in your life. Ask yourself:
What and who recharge your battery, creativity, and productivity?
Do you enjoy certain friends or colleagues?
Does your family share a love for certain activities?
Do you get joy from playing with your pets?
What hobbies have you neglected for a while?
Make Time For Fun
Now take a look at your calendar. Make time for regular breaks from your business so you can enjoy these people, things, and activities. In fact, start this weekend! Get away from your business this weekend and enjoy your family. Have some FUN! Beyond mere pleasure, this is important business coaching and executive coaching advice! The best business owners understand the value of fun in their lives and in the lives of their employees.