Lessons in Leadership for Business Owners
I attended Brockville Leadercast and one of the things I was trying to gauge was the number of small business owners in attendance. I wondered, do business owners value leadership as part of their business’s success? The room was dark and it was difficult to see who all was there but I did notice some entrepreneurs and was glad they too would listen to these great leaders and perhaps draw similar connections to Leadership and in Business.
A common planning theme, at least two of the leadership presenters pointed out was “Devote yourself to Preparation” (Peyton Manning) , and “Relentless Preparation” (Rudy Guilani) . These is one of my personal business mantras, Preparation mitigates risk. You cannot over plan and planning does not stop once you start your business. Planning may, as another presenter Rorke Denver, pointed out, require you to “make bold corrections.” I love that term and just had to use it!
Another common theme was trust. Isn’t that the essence of any customer transaction? Once a stranger becomes a customer, they trust you the business owner to be the solution to their problem. SAP owner, Bill McDermotthad one of the most impactful statements of the day for me, “Trust is the ultimate human currency.” I remember one day when we had our business and I sat on a concrete slab on the parking lot, a slight distance away, and counted the customers, over 100 on that particular Saturday, who trusted me and my business enough to come in and shop in my store. Trust we thought was implicit because it was simply an extension of who we are… but customers valued our honesty, willingness to correct and compensate for any merchandise sold that did not meet our high standards, and our desire to be part of our community by volunteering and donating goods and services whenever we could.
Aja Brown pointed out “you learn to diminish the fear of failure” and in business we must accept this. There is no perfect business plan. For certain, things will not go as planned or new opportunities will present. Yes we will fail because we are doing something new for the first time. Everything can be fixed…with time and money… but can be fixed. And what is learned from the failure… priceless.
I affirmed as a result of the many leadership presentations that I do possess the values and exhibit the behaviours that embody a leader worth following. So many organizations sent staff versus attending themselves as a team and that is so unfortunate. What an opportunity to participate as a team from the top down. However it shows that leadership can occur at any level of an organization. I thought of brave leaders in my community who were not in attendance because they were busy doing remarkable things, creating tension with their obsession. Conversely, I thought of leaders back in their industries and offices saying “ how not wow” when a new idea was being developed. Maybe next year these folks will leave their offices and businesses for just a day to consider the connection between leadership and business.