By now you are well on your way to implementing the first nine steps of this entrepreneurial excellence series. You are getting close to owning a business that works without your constant attention, direct supervision, controlling, micromanaging, and everyday decision making. You have created extra time to do what business owners enjoy doing – leading their company and focusing priorities on things that really make a bottom-line difference.
What are your HUGE priorities?
Ask yourself: ‘If you had a business that worked for you without you doing all the work, where would or should you spend your extra time to get the biggest return?’
___ Developing an inspiring vision
___ Setting clear targets and goals
___ Focusing on financial management
___ Developing customer relationships
___ Selling to new targets
___ Seeking better project opportunities
___ Training your employees
___ Looking for equity building ventures
___ Seeking wealth building opportunities
___ Motivating and inspiring employees
Notice that managing projects, supervising people and doing work aren’t even on the list of what leaders do. Think of great companies, large and small. Excellent companies are lead by a leader who takes and makes time to be the leader instead of a doer. He or she is the seller of the vision and what the company offers to its’ employees and customers. Examples of this leadership style are evident at Microsoft, Dell or GE. When you get your company organized, systemized and making a profit, it’s a lot of fun to be the owner. You work on exciting things, new opportunities and what really makes a difference. When you spend time doing all the work instead of leading, your company remains stuck at a level based on how much work you can do and control.
Do you see yourself as a leader?
When you hear the word ‘leader’ do you think of a political leader, business leader, financial leader or yourself? Most small business owners and managers think of themselves as hard workers instead of leaders. Leadership has nothing to do with working hard or whether you own a company. Leadership is the indicator of your ability to get people to want to follow you. Leaders get results through people who achieve bottom-line targets. When asked, most business owners think they’re a great leader. But most employees say their boss is not an excellent leader.
Where do you spend your time?
Business owners have a tough job managing customers and working with people to get the results
they want. But until they step up to leadership, they won’t realize the full potential of their people or company. Most business owners spend far too much time doing the wrong things well. They’re great at doing work tasks. This causes them to focus on doing what they’re comfortable with instead of doing what makes the most money or produces the highest return.
When I present my ‘Business Success Blueprint’ seminar at conventions I ask attendees: ‘Where do successful business owners spend their time, on the jobsite or at the country club?’ Successful business owners focus on building excellent companies. They do it by maximizing customer relationships and seeking better business opportunities. This can’t be accomplished by doing or micromanaging work. Leaders realize to hit their goals, they must spend the majority of their time being a leader and not the doer. (The right answer is the country club.)
Take the Leadership Priority Test
My current time commitments and priorities are:
Doing Work ____ Hours per week
Controlling & Directing Work ____ Hour per week
Managing & Supervising People ____ Hours per week
Selling & Customer Relationships ____ Hours per week
Leading & Inspiring People ____ Hours per week
Seeking Business Opportunities ____ Hours per week
I believe successful business owners who have moved from the manager role into a leadership role spend only 25% of their time doing work and the other 75% with customers, seeking better business, looking for opportunities and leading people to become the best they can be.
The Buck Stops Here!
As the leader you are 100% responsible for everything – sales, profits, growth, quality, customer service, how organized your company is, people, and management. Your results are the indicator of your leadership. Leaders make the necessary leadership decisions to get results they want. Leaders have the courage to change themselves first when things aren’t on target. They’re on a mission, try new ideas, change their behavior, change markets, do things different, innovate, try new methods and go against the grain when necessary.
Over 90% of employees rate their company leadership below excellent. Only the top 10% are effective leaders who look for new ways to improve, motivate people, find new customers and seek new business opportunities. The common denominator to achieve business success is PEOPLE – influencing, motivating, managing, giving them a vision, getting them committed and getting them to achieve what you want.
Their output equals your input
Leaders realize they get what they expect. When leaders control or talk down to employees, they’re held down and not allowed to be or do their best. Most people perform below their ability because leadership needs to improve. When leaders treat employees as responsible and accountable adults they respond in a positive manner and take charge. When managers do their worker’s job for them or don’t trust them to make decisions, people don’t become the best they can be. The problem is not your people, it’s your leadership. When you have people problems, it’s a reflection of leadership effectiveness. People don’t want to follow the boss. They want to follow the leader. Leaders put people first. They listen, inspire, motivate, care, teach, coach, train, encourage, help, and respect others. Rather than focusing on day to day activities, leaders set the vision, set goals, track targets and then get their people to follow.
Leaders are focused!
Today’s business leaders are very focused. They have a vision of what they want their company to become and don’t let it get out of sight. To make their vision become a reality, they spend their time on three priorities:
Effective leaders have a motivating and inspiring vision that motivates their people to make big results happen. They set big targets. They focus on their customers. And make people a top priority. This gets their people to perform at levels they don’t think possible and achieve great results.
What’s Your Vision?
Leaders stand up and say: “Here’s where we’re going, and here’s how we’ll make it happen.” Leaders have a vision people get excited about, instead of the standard: “Work hard and we’ll see how it comes out; and if we do well, maybe we’ll give you a raise.” People get tired of repeating the same tasks over and over again without any excitement or passion from leadership – like digging a long ditch. And, when they’re done, they just get another ditch to dig. This doesn’t make people excited about coming to work and making a difference. People want to follow someone on a mission. This gets them excited about doing a better job. Are you a motivator or de-motivator?
Leaders start with an exciting vision and then connect it to specific results they want. Some companies have a vision to be the best company, the best contractor, the best service provider, or provide the best quality. While those are O.K. visions, they’re not exciting. Examples of exciting visions: ‘We are recognized as the leader in customer service!’ or ‘We are the best at building difficult technical projects!’ or ‘We finish jobs faster than any competitor!’ or ‘We offer value-added services to help customers make more profit!’
What’s Your Target?
After defining your exciting vision, specific results must be targeted and quantified. For example, if your vision is to be the best service provider, determine what specific measurable results would enhance your bottom-line. Some examples of targets include: a referral from every customer, only five percent callbacks, no installation errors or 98% on-time completion. What specific targets and numbers can you shoot for to realize your vision & get results you want? Without specific clear targets, your people really don’t know what ‘try to do quality work’ or ‘be the best’ really means.
Ask your employees: “What’s our company vision? What specific results are we trying to accomplish? What are our top three priorities?” I’ll bet you’ll get 37 different answers! To hit the results you want, you must get everyone on the same page. Leading and getting the results starts with communicating your vision with specific target you expect. Get started now by defining your company vision and targets:
Our Vision: ___________________________________________________
Specific Results We Want:
Leaders make customers a priority!
“I have some deep concerns about the future of your company, the management team you have assembled and your leadership. Your business is not growing for one reason: You and your management team are not making customer relationships, selling and creating new revenue a priority.”
This is the opening to a letter I recently sent to a start-up company I invested in. I wanted to get them focused on the real business problem which was causing low profits. Often times, business owners or managers tend to blame bottom line issues on the economy, competition, market or their employees. In reality, results are the biggest indicator of leadership. Making a profit and growing your business is simple. It starts with creating revenue. No revenue = no business = no profit. Successful leaders are big-time revenue generators who constantly sell. The fastest way to fix a company’s profit or growth problems is to generate more revenue. Look at what some of the greatest business leaders say about selling:
“Anyone can manage. Leaders go out and create revenue.”.- Sam Walton
“Anyone can mind the store. Revenue takes inspiration and excitement.” – Jack Welch
“Anyone can organize. Leaders cold call and close sales.” – Lee Iacocca
“Anyone can stay busy by selling low price. Leaders create loyal customer relationships.” – George Hedley
For me, selling doesn’t come naturally. I don’t like to spend my day cold calling on potential customers who don’t really want to talk to me. Selling is uncomfortable. Selling is not my gift. Several years ago I tried to fix this problem by hiring a salesperson. I figured this would remove me from the sales process. Guess what? It didn’t work. He continually kept asking me to go on sales calls with him. This ticked me off! Now what? How can you grow your business without selling? You can’t! The leader must carry the sales torch. In my construction business, clients want to know me and know I will be the project leader (not manager) before making a decision to hire us.
Leaders Commit To Customers
The only way you can grow your business is to take personal responsibility to create customer relationships and profitable revenue. You must be the leader and spend lots of time building customers relationships. The highest return on your time is time spent with customers. What is your personal commitment to leading, selling and creating customer relationships? This week? This month? This quarter? This year?
Leaders use a personal sales and face to face appointments with their top 20 customer targets on a regular basis. Every breakfast and lunch is an opportunity to be with one of your targets. Every day arrange at least 1 or 2 meetings with potential and current customers from your target list. Give your management team a weekly progress report to show your commitment to making sales happen.
Remember the start-up company I sent the letter to? The CEO got on board and made it happen. He made a personal commitment to make ten sales appointments every week. He also committed to personally generate $15,000,000 in revenue within six months. This also improved productivity, customer service and profitability as he learned to let go and delegate. If your business isn’t growing in revenue and profits, only you can be blamed as the leader. You live your priorities. Have you made selling a priority?
Make people your priority!
Remember the old management style of management by wandering around? Leaders lead people by spending lots of time with them coaching and inspiring them to become the better, responsible, accountable and valuable. Leaders trust others by delegating everything except vision, values and setting targets. When people are not responsible for results, they’ll never grow to become excellent managers you want them to be.
In most construction companies the boss is responsible for everything and the only one accountable for bottom-line results. Who in your company is responsible to hit your profit goals, keep customers happy, make sure you have enough work to keep everyone busy, order the right materials, finish jobs on time, open and close the office, get change orders signed, read and review contracts, find new customers, or make sure quality is acceptable? When you take responsibility for everything, you are not leading others.
When the boss owns the problem, only the boss can solve it. Do people constantly line up outside your door or consistently call your cell phone to ask you to solve their problems? When you solve other people’s problems, they bring you MORE problems. People responsible for nothing are responsible for NOTHING! Do your people depend on you to make their decisions for them?
Let go to grow!
How can you lead when you’re doing everyone else’s job? You don’t really want to give up your power, do you? It feels good to rescue people & put out their fires. This keeps you in control and unable to grow your company. This is not leadership. You’ll have to let go to grow and step up to leadership. Why don’t you trust them? Afraid they’ll make a mistake? Can you do it faster or better? Maybe it just feels good to be a control freak. Maybe the solution to your people problem is you!
Your leadership challenge is to get people responsible, for what they’re responsible for! Transfer ownership to those who do the work. Go through your in-basket, phone messages, faxes, e-mails and ‘to do’ list. For every item, ask yourself who can I delegate and trust with this task or responsibility? Leadership is not about control or power. It is about people and getting them to want to do what you want them to do. You can tell people what to do and only they decide if they’ll do it. Your leadership job is to lead, coach, encourage and keep them on track. The more control you take the less they do for you.
Get in the opportunity business!
Once you decide to step up to leadership, get out of your ‘do’ role and let go to grow, you’ll find business becomes fun. You have time to seek better business opportunities, spend time with other visionary business owners and look for ways to expand your bottom-line. Make it your priority to spend at least twenty-five hours every week focused on activities that will grow your business, improve your people, enhance your management team, build customer relationships, or take your company to the next level.
George Hedley owns a $75 million construction and development company and Hardhat Presentations. He speaks to companies on building profitable businesses, leadership, and loyal customers. He holds 3-day in-depth “Profit-Builder Circles” open to construction company owners in an interactive roundtable format every 3 months. His “Profit-Builder System” includes proven tools to always make a profit, build equity, create wealth, win profitable jobs, motivate your people, and enjoy the benefits of owning a profitable company.