You haven’t made it this far without challenging experiences and sound advice. You’re a brilliant leader because you know there’s no limit to learning, as asserted by these business gurus.
Leadership has changed dramatically. Nine in 10 respondents to Deloitte’s 2016 Millennial Survey say that businesses should put employees first, and employers should have a solid foundation of trust and integrity for long-term success.
“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things,” former statesman Ronald Reagan once said. “He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.”
Nothing can prepare you for becoming a business leader. Your expertise, skills and education are useful tools, but it’s mostly trial, error and practical experience that’ll earn you those stripes.
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What are the most important values a business should follow if it is to have long-term success? (who are you quoting here?) 87% of millennials believe that the success of a business should be measured in terms of more than just its financial performance. It’s not all about the numbers, but the people who help generate them.
There’s a lot that you’ll experience as you grow your business. These experiences are worth the lessons learnt - take it from these business leaders:
1. Give your venture everything you’ve got
Believe in yourself, says Virgin Group mogul Richard Branson. “A passionate commitment to your business and personal objectives can make all the difference between success and failure. If you aren’t proud of what you’re doing, why should anybody else be?”
Don’t blindly believe that pursuing profits and growth is your shortest route to success. If you stay focused on being the best at what you do, Branson believes, it’s more likely that the rest will follow “But it starts with entrenching self-confidence within yourself first. Otherwise, how else is everyone else supposed to believe in you?”
2. Never compare your technical skills with your employees’
If you were able to do everything yourself, you would be working alone. But instead, you have a whole team around you taking on different roles. Let them do what they’re good at, while you do the same.
Jack Ma, co-founder and CEO of Alibaba, believes in hiring people with superior skills: “Your employees should have superior technical skills than you. If they don’t, it means you’ve hired the wrong person.”
Focus instead, on prioritising matters that require your attention exclusively, advises Jessica Jackley, co-founder of Kiva and later co-founder and CEO of ProFounder. “You must focus on the most important, mission-critical tasks each day and night, and then share, delegate, delay or skip the rest.”
3. Your energy permeates everything
Your company culture begins with you. So does the attitude of your employees. This isn’t to say someone’s having a bad day because of you, but when you experience the same, it may well affect everyone.
You set the tone for your employees, whether you’re aware of it or not.
“You can go through thousands of dollars in consultants to shape your culture, but it will still come back to the owner’s approach,” says Kristi Hedges, leadership consultant and coach at The Hedges Company. “If you’re motivated and happy in your role, then others will follow your lead. And if you’re burned out and tired, that energy will permeate everything,” she says.
Put yourself last and you’ll hurt your entire company. But find ways to make your role and company fulfilled and excited, and everyone will reap the benefits.
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4. Create trustworthy relationships – listen
It’s enormously important to be able to communicate in life, says business magnate, investor, and philanthropist Warren Buffet. “If you can’t communicate and talk to other people and get across your ideas, you’re giving up your potential,” he says.
How else will you know what your employees are thinking or worried about? If your approach doesn’t change, their performance won’t either. The answer? Listen.
Glenn Llopis, founder of the Glenn Llopis Group asserts that leaders who listen are able to create trustworthy relationships that are transparent and breed loyalty: “You know the leaders who have their employees’ best interests at heart because they truly listen to them.”
5. Create a culture of delayed gratification
At 25 he ran a R400 million division in a R17 billion multi-national. Vusi Thembekwayo is now the CEO of investment and advisory firm, MOTIV8 and one of the youngest directors of a listed company in SA.
His secret isn’t as magical as you may think – it’s something you can apply across all spheres of your life: Patience.
“Build it, but build it for the next 10 years, next 15 years; shape generations, send young people through to university, create innovative structures and platforms and processes. But whatever you do, delay your own gratification,” Thebekwayo advises.
Leadership cannot be perfected, but it can be learned. Every challenge is an opportunity for both you and your staff to perform better and grow your business – by leading and empowering your staff, one employee at a time.