No matter how good we are; how talented or intelligent or creative we may be… the truth will soon come out that there is only so much we can do on our own. If you don’t believe it… stay up for 72 hours, and then let’s talk again.
To be sure, at the root of every great organization are the focused and committed efforts of other people. The team.
Yes, I know there is vision and mission and purpose. Yes, I know there is innovation and service… efficiency and process. But take away the people, and you remove the potential for real growth.
Interestingly, the challenge for many small businesses is that they were indeed started on the back of specific talents, knowledge, or competencies of their founder.
Unfortunately, the skills that got them into business are not the same skills they will need to grow their business.
You see, business ownership is simply a decision; I decide to go into business for myself. That’s the easy part. Growing the business, on the other hand, is going to require the ability to attract, retain, and lead others. Many others. Without strong leadership ability, and the firm commitment to relationships that comes with it, the chances of retaining exceptional talent is diminished.
Several days ago, I introduced three simple ideas that had a profound effect on my professional track; you can review them here.
Now, let’s assume everything went like clockwork on the first principle, and you successfully navigated the waters of the interview dance, which we discussed here. You’ve begun to assemble a team with outstanding leadership potential, which should positively impact the growth of your organization over time… but here’s the caveat… if you can keep them.
It’s this second principle, “Your people are your greatest assets”, that will make or break you; that will determine whether you are in business for yourself… or just by yourself. How you handle the relational aspects of your business will determine the size and effectiveness of your entire organization, and will greatly influence the outcome of your plans.
As the leader of a growing organization, your commitment to personal and leadership growth is critical to keeping your team together. Assuredly, it is the single most important decision you can make today. Sell out to this. Go all in. As your team expands, your abilty to lead will be tested in at least three ways:
1) You will need to create growth opportunities.
People with leadership potential tend not to like the status quo. They have confidence, and are looking to be challenged. If you plateau, so do they. Ultimately, leaders need to be put in a
position to lead.
You want your players to understand that if they want to move up, get promoted, or receive substantial increases in responsibilities and compensation, they don’t have to go somewhere
else to get it.
And just a word on compensation. There has been much talk over the last number of years along the lines that “money isn’t that important” or “employees are much more interested in ‘other aspects’ of their job'”, etc. etc. etc. Right. Having had fourteen thousand employees, I never spoke with one that didn’t want a raise. Nearly half the population would make a switch for $2500 a year.
2) You will need to develop leaders from within.
Leaders are not born; they are made… sometimes by themselves, but usually by other great leaders. You will need to identify, coach, mentor, groom, develop, and refine hidden talents and abilities buried deep within your players. Without your own set of exceptional relational skills,
this is nearly impossible.
Brett Favre was sitting on the third string bench in Atlanta when he was ‘discovered’ by Green Bay.
Before he could set any records, it would first take great leadership to recognize the potential that was locked inside; potential that had gone completely unnoticed by every other team in the league.
3) You must create an environment that values and rewards leadership.
In order to encourage the growth of your team, you need to provide the example. Write this in stone. Become an organization that strives for excellence.
The importance here cannot be overstated. Leaders who plateau soon cease to be leaders.
This is poison to an organization as up and coming potential leaders are seen as a threat.
Avoid a revolving door of your best employees; make personal growth and leadership
development a non-negotiable aspect of your culture, in every position and department.
NOTE: There is one other set of issues that can send people packing to start their own businesses, or to work for the competition. It’s covered in the last of the three principles
I wrote down in 1986; I’ll gve my thoughts on that tomorrow.
The success or failure of your organization is in direct proportion to your ability to lead.
Great leadership ability is not an accident.
Are there hidden assets on your team just waiting to be discovered?
Have you successfully implemented a professional development plan at your company?
I look forward to speaking with you.