Becoming an Effective Leader Helped Turn My Struggling Business Into a Thriving Franchise -- Here's How I Did It
Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox
Related: 50 Rules for Being a Great Leader
True leadership has three parts to it, and it begins with making the commitment to become a leader. For me, making the decision to become an effective leader helped me turn my struggling business into a thriving global franchise. I believe anyone can make this decision at any point in their lives to become a leader if they're serious about it.
Speaking of decision making ...
1. Be decisive.
Indecision causes entrepreneurs more lost money, more stress, more anxiety and more loss of market share than making the wrong decision. That's why the key to success as an entrepreneur is to train yourself to make decisions fast, even when only a small amount of information is available to make your decision.
The reality is that you will only ever have 30 percent to 50 percent of the information you need to make the decision any given time. If you make the right call, great! Continue to dominate. If you make the wrong decision, you'll know it immediately because of lost money, lost time or lost opportunities. The second you notice that dip, you can be decisive again and course correct.
Look, I know it's scary to make a decision, but as an entrepreneur the success of your business hinges on the decisions you make and the speed with which you make them. I once threw down $1 million to buy a new office building for my growing team. Unfortunately, that building was directly across the street from the local men's prison. Somehow, I had talked myself into thinking that wasn't a big deal.
Then, I discovered our dream building up for sale in a much nicer part of town ... for $3 million.
Now, was I trigger shy after making my first mistake? Yes, I was, but when I saw the new building I knew in my gut that it was the proper home for my business. So, I bought it and moved the team there instead.
That course correction paid off almost immediately. The second my team set foot in the new building, everyone started performing at a higher level.
Here's how I trained myself to be more decisive: I started making all my small decisions faster. Which shirt to wear, where to take my wife on date night -- I've trained myself to make these decisions within five seconds. That means when I get to the big decisions, I can make them fast, usually within minutes.
That one-minute decision allows me to seize the opportunity before anyone else gets to it, or learn a valuable lesson and course correct.
2. Communicate clearly and openly.
Poor top-down communication can kill any business. I've seen so many businesses full of well-meaning, talented people run into trouble because the leader is picturing a plan of "X, Y, Z" and the team is executing a plan of "A, B, C."
The most important thing to remember about communication is to be clear and never make assumptions. My favorite communication strategy is to start by first explaining the outcome for what I want. That's key.
Then, once I've explained the outcome, I explain the action steps. Then, I ask the other person to repeat back to me what I just explained. If what they repeat back sounds like what I just said, then I know we're in good shape. If they say something different, then it's an opportunity to explain further and achieve clarity.
3. Respond instead of reacting.
Every business runs into problems. As an entrepreneur, you have to deal with team members quitting right when you need them most, bad employees trying to sabotage your business, servers going down, embezzlement, people getting injured -- you name it.
All those situations suck, but it's your call whether you react or respond. To react means letting your emotions take control, which means doing something you'll regret later. Forget who's "right" -- nobody walks away from a shouting match looking good, and that's certainly not effective leadership.
This is an embarrassing story, but way back when I was selling my first online product, I had a guy call in and ask me for a refund. He politely explained that the product was glitchy and he didn't see the value in it.
In hindsight, I know he was 100 percent correct. More importantly, I know the mature response would have been to take his feedback on board, give him the refund, promise to improve the product and reconnect with him later once I had the updated version live. That's not what I did.
Instead, I reacted by trying to justify the problems and shortcomings of my product. You see, in my mind he was insulting my product, and I took that personally, which led to a shouting match -- and nobody won.
Since then I've learned how to respond to problems with solutions, rather than reacting emotionally. We once had an employee effectively lose us $640,000. So, I pulled our team together, figured out who had the bandwidth the cover her projects and made a plan to move forward and recover the lost revenue.
That time, I didn't waste any energy sulking, reacting emotionally or getting angry. I just went into action, responded to the problem and focused on the desired outcome: building a successful business with a positive culture.
These days, my business empire is growing so rapidly that no setback can stop us. Whenever there's a problem, we respond with a plan and the team just keeps driving toward our ultimate goal: creating a world-class global franchise.
It all starts with leadership. Your business can grow into a thriving empire if you develop the leadership to take it there. Leadership is a decision, and you can make the decision to become a leader at any time. I recommend you start now.
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