Have you always wanted to be a successful and inspiring leader? Well, have I got just the thing for you! My easy DIY 5-step method will have you leading others in no time! Okay, okay, I’ll cut the shtick. As much as I would like to give you an easy recipe for “instant leader,” there just isn’t one. Becoming a successful leader takes time, heart, and a lot of trial and error.
There are, however, five areas that I have seen in all great leaders and companies. And if you and your company adhere to be strong in these five areas, not only will you become effective leaders and market makers, you will also put yourself on the path to accelerated success.
Nowadays, everyone is talking about transparency. Transparent numbers, transparent culture, transparent leaders, I could go on. Transparency without authenticity is flawed, contrived, and in the worst case can be seen as a cover to hide behind. Let me give you an example. If you and your company share your quarterly numbers with your employees but you only share the top line and the bottom line, you’ve technically checked the boxes for being transparent. But, it is the numbers in between and the market that give the top line and the bottom line any meaning. Without depth, the numbers are surface, confusing, and devoid of meaning to employees who do not deal with the numbers on a day-to-day basis. This can cause the employees to shut down and not care. I’m not saying share all your numbers without reservation but give context and explanation about the numbers, why they are important, and how the goals can be achieved. If people connect to your numbers and feel they understand them, then they will want to impact them. If, after you share your numbers, you have an employee come up to you privately and say they didn’t understand the numbers, an authentic leader will encourage them to speak up next time and then the leader will seek out a way to communicate the answer company-wide.
I know failure is kind of a strange topic to talk about when discussing successful leaders. The truth of the matter is that every great leader has failed in one way or another. When I was still in the corporate world, I came to a time in my career where I felt stagnant. I wasn’t progressing at the rate that I wanted to be. I talked to our CEO and he told me that it was because I had not failed enough. He explained to me that there are two types of failures, little fs and big Fs. Little fs are throwing things against the wall and seeing if they will stick. It’s failing quickly and pivoting fast. This makes little fs more like lessons. Examples of Big Fs are start-ups that fail, bankruptcy, or losing your top account when you have a lean portfolio. These types of failures are big, obviously, but also fuel a fire to go for the next big thing. Up until that point, my life was planned and designed. Even though I had tried some things that didn’t work and had been rejected, I wasn’t comfortable with little fs and was terrified of big Fs. I was scared to fail, but without failure, you cannot have success. Failure accelerates the need to succeed and provides lessons learned for future application.
Focus puts your vision on the things that you actually need. Multi-tasking is the way of the world, but if you try to do everything, you will be mediocre. It’s that simple. Focus makes sure that you are only putting your time and energy into the things that really matter. You cannot have clarity without focus. Which leads me to my next point…
Clarity is the most important part of a successful company. Clarity is the laser focus on what is already in your line of sight- clear, simple, objective. A successful leader will articulate this so everyone knows where they are headed. Clarity and focus must work together. In the last company I ran, we were stuck at a revenue number when I joined the company. In order to break through the barriers, we needed to diversify our portfolio and create products and services that were ancillary to what we do. We identified critical areas, and with authenticity, failure lessons learned, external viewpoints from clients and partners, and internal feedback from employees, we devised a four-point focus plan for the year. The four points were: grow revenue, contain costs, scale, and brand awareness. When we rolled it out, we did it with hyper focused clarity and after the meeting, I told everyone that if they were asked to do anything that does not fall into these areas to come and see me to help them say no. That was the year we doubled the size of the company.
Clarity also applies on an individual level. No matter what type of person you are, I have found that having one north star is critical to success and motivation. Again, multi-tasking may be tempting, but don’t confuse tactics with strategy. This applies throughout your life; promise yourself that you will take focus and clarity to the things that truly matter. If you are struggling to give up multi-tasking, I highly recommend the book The One Thing by Gary Keller. It will revolutionize your thinking. Market makers like Starbucks, Netflix, and Apple have one big-rock goal each and every year, known company-wide, and they are maniacal about making it happen.
One of my favorite sayings is, “Ideation without execution is hallucination.” If you just sit around with a bunch of great ideas in your head but never act, you are halfway to nowhere. Results are the measure of how well you do in all of the previous areas. The results that count are the ones that matter. I know a lot of people who get a lot done every day but somehow the important things are left on the backburner. You can be productive in the wrong way. What is important will vary from individual to individual. It’s not about just doing things right, it’s about doing the right things. Boards and execs that lock themselves away and don’t look up and out or get into the guts of their business will have a hard time getting predictive results.
Transformational growth comes from identifying the right things and then doing them right, all under the blanket of authenticity. This is a DIY project. You need to set goals for yourself and your company that concentrate on all five of these areas to transform yourself, your team, and your company into market-making leaders. And if you find yourself in need of a little DIY jump-start, try me!