- THE MAGAZINE
One of the biggest reasons small business owners remain a slave to their business is due to the lack of leadership. The owner of the business is convinced that no one is as capable as he or she and that you can’t find “good” people.
I know how you feel. Over my 27-year career, I have endured just about every employee nightmare you can imagine. I’ve had employees steal money from me, take my clients and fail to show up for work, leaving me to do the work all alone.
The good news is that leadership is a skill that anyone can learn. Anyone. As a founding member of The John Maxwell Team and an independent certified coach, let me quote John (who is recognized as the No. 1 leadership expert in the world). He says “leadership is influence.” Nothing more, nothing less. Everyone influences someone.
I have a new puppy. He is influencing me and I am influencing me! He has changed our routine as we must adjust the way we do things. And of course, I am teaching him things such as what to chew and what not to chew!
So how do you get influence? By adding value to others. My good friend Zig Ziglar says, “You can have everything in life you want if you just help enough other people get what they want.” Your employees can be your biggest nightmare or your greatest asset. And that depends on your leadership skill.
The one and only reason your business exists is to be a vehicle to help you achieve your life goals - your dream. I heard a saying that I really love: “If your dream is bigger than your team, you have to (either) give up the dream or build up the team.” I don’t know about you, but I’m not giving up the dream. And I can tell you this - one of the most gratifying things I have done in my 27-plus years since I started my carpet cleaning business out of the trunk of my car is building a phenomenal team.
Developing leaders in my company that run it for me has set me free to do the things I love to do and that I am called to do. I have 40 employees that run my companies for me. My cleaning business is turnkey. You won’t reach your biggest dreams in life by yourself. You will remain in the prison cell called “your small business doing everything yourself.”
Last year I was strongly considering purchasing a bed and breakfast across the street from my condo in Florida. The owner was a real slave to the business. He wanted out and was desperate to sell. He showed me plans he had to add another building next door. Now this guy wasn’t even mailing his past clients, didn’t answer the phone and wasn’t charging nearly what he could.
Through our conversations, I could easily see how putting up the other building to increase the number of rooms and turning the first floor into a dining room would increase revenues and profits to the level in which one could add staff and have the place be turnkey. Simply mailing a “send out card” to past guests would be an easy addition to the marketing system. I had even run the operating costs. Of course, like most small business owners, he couldn’t see it.
I ended up buying another property instead, but when I came down to Florida this year, I noticed that the bed and breakfast had sold. There was a new name on the sign and a building was going up next door. Not only that, but several restaurants had opened along that little street (confirming my belief that this was an excellent place for a restaurant). “Yes! A real businessperson has purchased this property and is building a real business!” I thought to myself.
The next day I called to inquire about reservations for a staff retreat. I got voicemail. The call was returned a little later that day with a hurried voice. I could not understand the new name of the place (why didn’t they keep the same name?). I learned that the lady I was speaking with had bought the place along with her husband. Turns out that the building next door was going to be her garage, and she couldn’t help me with all of my questions because she had guests arriving in 40 minutes and had to get the rooms cleaned! Her husband would have to call me back when he returned from the hardware store.
Ugh! I guess I’ll have to buy it when they wake up from what was supposed to be their romantic dream of owning a bed and breakfast and realize they are living a nightmare!
The point is that if these people understood what having phenomenal leadership systems would do for them, they would have done it differently. You do not have to be a slave to your business. You can find good people and you can become a phenomenal leader with phenomenal systems.
As I said, before I learned how to implement phenomenal leadership systems, I had just about every “employee problem” you can imagine. On one occasion, I had just left the office and was five minutes down the road when I got a call, “Chief, you need to come back to the office.” It seems that one of my employees was an alcoholic and in her drunkenness said something offensive to another female employee, who in turn slapped her across the face! And of course the fight was on right there in the office.
Finding good people today can be a problem. Some years ago, we noticed a low-rider, gang-like type of vehicle sitting in our parking lot for an extended time. Two men in the car had both of the front doors swung open and were sitting there loitering and partaking in illegal activities. At about the time I was ready to call the police, one of them got out of the car and began to make his way to our front door.
What could he possibly want from us? My staff allowed me to have the privilege of greeting the man while they hid in the back. He had flip-flops on, cut-off blue jean shorts, a yellow tank-top with a big tattoo on his bicep and was wearing sunglasses (that he never took off).
“Ya’ll hirin’?” he said. (“You’re kidding!” I’m thinking to myself).
I replied with something that is not exactly legal but seemed appropriate at the time. “We do require a drug test, is that going to be a problem?” “Dat gon’ be today?” he replied. (In other words, if you give me 24 hours, maybe I can get clean!)
Today I have a phenomenal staff that wants to win. They want to do it right. How have we turned it around? Phenomenal leadership systems. First, I had to learn how to be an effective leader. Next, I had to build a phenomenal leadership system that would help my team win consistently and that would continue to develop them.
I believe anyone can learn how to be a more effective leader which will help you attract and develop the right people. And when you do that, you will be on your way to reaching your biggest dreams in life. Remember, you must give up the dream or build up the team. You can do it!