Last Saturday, I celebrated my 10th year as the leader of the Indie Business Network, a trade organization serving small manufacturers of soaps, cosmetics, perfumes, candles, confectionery items and other health, beauty and lifestyle products. I am thoroughly enjoying serving my members, and I look forward to the next decade and beyond.Unfortunately, too many small businesses don't last the first few years, not to mention ten. While the lack of longevity can be explained by many things, at the center of it is a lack of effective core leadership. The good news is that leadership skills can be improved by a few simple mindset adjustments. Here is my list of three things to kick start or reignite this process.
Know Who You Are. In today's digital age, the success of a business depends heavily on the visibility, transparency and accessibility of its leader. You must therefore dig deep within yourself to identify and become comfortable with who you are at your core.
You must also accept that who you are will change from time to time. When it does, be prepared to accommodate those changes in ways that positively impact your business and your life. Journaling and frequent times of meditation facilitate the inner dialogue that will keep you focused and help you overcome the fear that is sometimes associated with the leadership process.
When you know who you are, you project the confidence and sincerity that positively impacts everything around you, including your business. Appreciating who you are allows you to positively influence yourself, and then, you can positively influence your business. Only then can you to positively influence others.
Know Where You Are Going. To be an effective leader, you must know exactly where you are going and the results you aim to achieve. If you don't know what you're aiming for, you cannot measure your success. And if you cannot measure your success, you cannot measure the success of those who work with and for you.
An effective business leader is able to manage each day's priorities and summon the wisdom needed to achieve specific goals. This helps with time management and delegation, and gives everyone involved a chance to be successful.
I recently started using Stephen Covey's Plan Plus Online to stay on track. I also use several iPhone apps, including the calendaring system that comes loaded on the device.
Communicate Who You Are And Where You Are Going. Once you know who you are and where you are going, you must communicate it to customers, employees, vendors, competitors and other stakeholders. In effect, you must publish this information for the world to see.
Technology makes it easy (and fun!) to to this consistently and confidently. Use your blog, newsletter, podcasts, press releases and everything else at your disposal to share who you are. What makes you tick? Why are you doing what you do? Who are you seeking to impact? What change are you making? What legacy will you leave?
How will you do these things? Contests? Trade shows? Books? Speaking engagements? Let people know your vision and how you expect to achieve it. Tell them what action they can take to share and benefit from what you are doing. Be specific, consistent and relentless.
I have heard it said that leadership cannot be taught, but it can be learned. Whether or not you agree with that, what is true is that leadership takes work, but without it, a business will flounder.
Question: What do you think? What tips can you offer to people become more effective business leaders?