“People cannot be managed. Inventories can be managed, but people must be led.” -H. Ross Perot
For many years now I’ve wrestled with the question, “What do followers really want from their leaders?” In that time, I’ve read several good resources, but my most valuable insights have come from conversations and my own personal experiences.
I’m convinced that everything rises and falls on leadership. I think most people know this intuitively, and that’s why most people hunger for good leadership – whether it be in business, in non-profit organizations, in churches, in the community, in government, everywhere!
Here are 5 attributes that followers want from their leaders.
Back in 1986 I came across a new book (at the time) entitled The E-Myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael Gerber.
I remember reading the book and thinking about how “revolutionary” it was for owners of small businesses. I found myself going back to it from time to time to help me think strategically. My wife and I both grew up in family-owned businesses and we were very appreciative of the struggles and opportunities of business ownership. So when I read E-Myth, it was like gold to me! However, I found myself needing to review it periodically because it was such a different mindset than I was used to.
One of the reasons executives and business owners hire a coach is for accountability. I hear my clients comment that this is a huge value that they receive from our coaching relationship. But I need to be honest about something here; I cannot hold anyone accountable. Let me explain.
“Most folks are about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” – Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was right. Your happiness and mine depend largely on how willing you and I are to be happy. And our willingness includes the time that we are willing to dedicate to stepping away from our business, having fun, and simply enjoying life.
However, if you are like most business owners, you probably don’t plan for and schedule out enough time to have fun. And if you do get a chance to have fun, it happens in the margins, every once and a while, or not even at all. You may end up neglecting your hobbies, your family, your friends, your pets, and – most of all – yourself.
Most owners I meet are striving for some kind of balance in their lives. But you have most likely realized that if you do not make time for fun, if you don’t intentionally plan for time off, the balance in your life will not happen on its own.
Identifying and hiring talent has been a passion of mine. Over the years I’ve interviewed and assessed literally hundreds of very talented professionals. I continue to be fascinated by every individual that I meet and get to know. There is so much human talent and potential in the world that I find this part of my work extremely gratifying.
But as employers, when we assess and interview, what are we looking for? How can we be more effective in hiring talent? Of course, we all look for a good first impression – Does the individual present themselves well? Do they have a neat appearance? Do they communicate well? Do they have an appropriate and/or professional manner?
If we’re wise, we also do a background check and we check their references – Are they honest? Are they dependable? Do they work well with others? Are they teachable? Do they have a good reputation?
But how do you know they can actually do the job for which you are hiring them? I like to look at 3 aspects of each individual person.
Yesterday I led a Strategic Retreat for business owners where we talked through this topic. These retreats take place every 90 days. It’s a full day away from your business to work “on” the business instead of “in” the business.
Every quarter we assess where our businesses are and where we are as strategic business owners. We set goals and we hold each other accountable to our goals and vision. We create a written plan of action for the next 90 days, and then we come back in 90 days and do it again. Each quarter we also work on some strategic system in our business. Yesterday this group had great accomplishments to share and they engaged our process with passion.
Everyone assessed where their business was in the small business lifecycle. Good business management is essential as small businesses move through the cycle. Here are the 5 stages that small businesses go through.
Too many small business owners are by default small leaders, and this costs them dearly! However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Too many of us excel in “doer-ship” instead of “leadership,” and unfortunately, it shows in our businesses and our lives.
Too many owners of small businesses are micro-managers who like to touch and control everything. They trust no one but themselves. They believe “no one does it as well as me.” As a result, they seldom delegate, if they delegate at all. They mistake such busyness for business leadership.
Instead of thinking and leading like “owners,” many (if not most) of us think and behave like employees.