There is an old axiom that goes like this: “Behind every messed-up company is a messed-up leader.” The real version is somewhat more graphic, but this is a G-rated publication and I respect that; you never know when a six-year-old might want to read this column.
But it’s true. So often over the years I have dealt with owners who called me in to help them with problems they were having with their teams, only to hear from me that they are, in fact, the problem with their organization.
I have seen all types of leaders and I am happy to say that many of them are very good, and they lead their companies to a successful future. Others though, not so much.
I have worked with owners who:
- Like to have a new plan-of-the-month. They do not realize that a plan is only as good as its implementation. They hate the boring meat-and-potatoes implementation part, and after a few weeks claim that the plan is not working and it’s time for a new one. I remember one guy who literally had a plan a month. I would visit him monthly, leave with a solid plan, work on it and begin implementation, only to have him tell me to throw it out because he had a new idea now.
- Argued with me month after month because they did not believe that delivering product on time was important. One told me that he had not heard any complaints from his customers, so he did not understand what the problem was. Even after he brought in a new sales team and then lost all 33 new customers because of poor performance, he blamed the new sales team for being ineffective.
- Would not spend a penny on sales or marketing, not one red cent. One owner always told me that he did not have the budget for it. Usually he would tell me this as we were walking into his shop to see the new laser drill or LDI he had just bought. But no, there was never any money for a sales effort of any kind—and of course the reason I was there talking to him was that he did not have enough customers and orders coming in!
Now, let’s get on to some good stuff, like the characteristics of a great business leader. This is from a new book by Susan Solovic that is coming out in March, called The One-Percent Edge. It’s a pretty good little book, and I recommend it highly. It would make a great birthday present for your boss. So, from the book, here are the qualities of a good business leader:
- Demonstrates a consistent attitude and actions
- Follows through on commitments
- Is loyal to others
- Is readily available
- Gives praise
- Accepts responsibility for business decisions
- Delegates well
- Knows the difference between the important issues and small details
- Is a good listener
- Treats people fairly and honestly
- Is an idea/vision person
- Is willing to turn to people for advice
- Isn’t afraid to get advice from others
- Enjoys new projects
- Possesses a high EQ (emotional quotient)
And now here are a few more from my experience. A good leader:
- Is fair to everyone and doesn’t play one against the other
- Is happy when a subordinate does well
- Encourages everyone under him to do well
- Gives credit where credit is due
- Does not succumb to flattery
- Stands on the highest moral ground of anyone in the company
- Walks the talk
- Is self-deprecating (please, we sorely need that with all our leaders in this country right now)
- Is the Number One customer service person in the company
- Is a role model for everyone in the company
- Is an overall good person
- Is deeply involved in the company but does not micro-manage
- Does not waste people’s time wanting unnecessary reports
- Embraces change and is himself a game-changer
There is no doubt that if a person possesses all these characteristics, he will not only be a good leader, he will be a great leader and people will love following his lead.
It’s only common sense.