Over the last few months I have met with a few CEOs that have told me that they have worked their way out of a job. They literally are so free of the day to day activities of running a company that they barely have enough stuff to occupy their time! Some might think that in this case the CEO isn’t necessary, or there is a duplication of efforts, and there is wasted money. Quite the contrary! In every case, when I hear this, I realize this CEO “get’s it” and that his business is growing and thriving. If you are a CEO that hasn’t reached, or is not striving, for this level of autonomy, let me explain why this is ultra-important for the longevity of your company (and your legacy!) Today, I’m sharing the secrets to becoming a successful leader.
Secrets to Becoming a Successful Leader
In my line of work, I meet with business owners and business leaders of all varieties. Some business leaders are buried in a mountain of work, and just need help to see over the horizon, others that are always looking at what is coming next, or somewhere in between. Although I learn a lot from all the conversations, the most enlightening are the conversations with leaders looking beyond the horizon.
These over the horizon leaders aren’t occupied solving the issues of today but are on the lookout for where the next generation troubles will be coming from, and how to solve their problems. They see a future for their company well beyond what they have created today. Don’t get me wrong, they are still aware of what is happening today, but the thrive in the creating a better future.
What is the major difference? Over the horizon leaders talk about leadership, culture and how they have been able to be a trusted resource for clients and customers. While the leaders stuck in the day to day, will talk about the struggles of meeting deadlines, hiring talented people, and “being busy.” What is the predominate thoughts that occupy your time while at work?
Time to Innovate
How much time do you dedicate to innovation, and identifying and solving the problems of tomorrow? A company that fails to innovate will fail to achieve or maintain any competitive edge for any significant period of time.
I’m sure I am preaching to the choir here, but we all know that the way technology is advancing, old and current ways of doing business will soon be obsolete. Can you believe I have run into companies that still don’t have a website? Seriously it is 2019! How long can a company like that stay in business? These businesses must rely on personal relationships and maintaining their current client base. While I am NOT suggesting that those aren’t important aspects of a business development strategy, they would be extremely limited in new prospects they can attract.
When it comes to business, if I can’t find you with a simple google search, I can’t take your business serious. That is an extreme example here, however with advances in machine learning, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) the way we do business is changing at an increasingly rapid pace.
Leaders who have freed themselves up from the day to day activities, or at least minimized their direct involvement, have time to understand industry trends and position themselves for future growth. This helps you set the standard for the industry helping you to solidify your position as a market leader.
Next Level Thinking
How do you prepare for taking your company to the next level? Do you have time for next level thinking, or are you focused on solving the issue of the day?
I have a couple of books in my library that talk about next level thinking (The Next Level and What Got You Here Won’t Get You There). These books are primarily focused in leaders moving up in the corporate ladder. The behaviors and strategies that make me successful as an individual contributor had to change when I got into leadership. As I moved up the leadership ranks, I needed to think and behave differently at all levels. If I didn’t adapt, or change, then I wouldn’t be successful or even be able to achieve the next level of performance.
There is no difference for your company. If you want your company to grow to and compete in, the next level of performance you have to be able to think at a higher level. This means being able to see above and beyond your current situation and change your thoughts and behaviors.
Again, as I meet with business owners, I can almost immediately tell how far their business will go within an hour of talking to them. There are business owners that have a small business mindset (and there is nothing wrong with that). They are focused primarily on staying in business, and maybe slight growth. They have no aspirations of growing beyond their current market share and are perfectly content. On the other hand, I have met a small operation with a handful of employees that thought and acted as if their leader was already running a massive nationwide organization. This successful leader was always looking over the horizon, and needed to be helped to stay in the present from time to time. Freeing yourself from the day to day, allows you to look over the horizon and create that next level of thinking that will propel your success.
What happens if you are not there for an extended period of time? How will your company function?
You can’t work forever, and you cannot always be in the office. Life happens. You need vacations. People get sick. There are a variety of other reasons you cannot be in the office 24/7. Is your company equipped to operate with out you? Being a successful leader means your business can continue to grow and prosper when you are not there.
Will your company (and legacy) survive after you retire?
This Week’s Challenge
Successful leaders that want to create a company that lasts a lifetime, and beyond, have to free themselves from the tethers of the day to day operations. By coaching, teaching, and developing the next generation of leaders, you will ensure that your company will grow and thrive in any and all circumstances. Equally important to you coaching, teaching and developing, your executives, managers and supervisors must be doing the same, on a continuous basis. When you can create a culture where everyone is elevating performance, you are free to continue to create and preserve the company that you’ve worked so hard for.
If you would like to discuss more ways to help your business grow or if you feel you have a specific problem that needs to be addressed, please reach out to me.