What is the number one leadership skill you need to own a business and lead a team?
I think that you really need to be honest with yourself and really believe that the most important thing to do is make up your mind that you are going to do everything you can for your company and employees, before you do things for yourself. It is a skill and takes a good amount of work. The reason that we go into business for ourselves is, well for ourselves! More time, more money, status… so you need to change that mindset.
“The owner eats last” but the owner will eat very well if he puts others first.
The other skill is to surround yourself with amazing people, and there are many reasons for that. However you will probably not keep them unless they are well taken care of and feel greatly appreciated.
How do you train your team to be good leaders?
Everyone in our company is considered a leader. People lead in so many different ways and they are all important and when properly meshed together they form an amazing team. Most employees become like the owner (in a small business) or the managers/leaders above them. The way that an owner carries themselves usually dictates the way that the people under them carry themselves.
We don’t actually train leaders here. I carry myself in a way that I want the others to carry themselves, all the time. I never talk behind people’s backs, I never say bad shit about an employee to another employee. I love an article that I wrote years ago “The Fish Rots From The Head Down”. (To the reader, see copy of Dave’s article below.)
How do you mentor and encourage your team?
I put myself in other people’s shoes and think about how I become motivated. I want to be a part of what is going on and I want to be recognized for my efforts. I want to know how the company is doing and what my impact is on that success. It all becomes part of what you do and who you are and always comes down to leading by example. When done right you encourage and mentor all the time. Recognition doesn’t have to be an event, just a mention at the lunch meeting or a quiet “thank you” card when they don’t expect it.
How do you recognize a great employee?
We have a lunch meeting every Tuesday. At that meeting we speak about things that went well and also about people who stepped up, had a great week or did something special. We encourage other employees to say something when they see another employee do something special. We have a goofy trophy that we give out for that person to keep for the week along with a couple of bucks. There have been a few times when someone mentioned me as doing something special and even though I’m the owner and owners shouldn’t care (hahaha) it really made me feel great, appreciated. I want people to be rewarded and recognized and it goes beyond a paycheck.
We are renovating the offices here. Marlene took it upon herself , in addition to her regular work, to do the painting. She is our Finance Manager, a leader by title, but stepping up as a painter is being a leader by example, going above and beyond for our company.
Our people routinely go above and beyond, you can see it and feel it in our shop. It’s not just my job to acknowledge and reward, it’s who I am and I’m truly grateful! It all starts with you.
How does effective communication effect leadership?
First off, your ethics and standards must be high all the time. People need to trust that you are truthful in order for communication to really work. You must be sincere, grateful, focused and convey that.
There are times when you have to have a difficult conversation or make a difficult or unpopular decisions… people need to know that right or wrong you are doing things for the right reasons.
Additional thoughts from Dave about Leadership…
“There are so many angles to look at when you discuss leadership. Everyone here is a leader in one way or another. From managers who have the title of “leader” to the apprentice whose great attitude “leads” others to have great attitudes.”
Many people think highly of themselves and say things like “if I could only find someone like myself” or “if I could only clone myself”… but if you could find another “you” ask yourself this question… “would I work for me”? I ask myself that question in so many situations.
Leaders lead 24/7 – not just at work.
Leaders make people feel special and believe that they are.
Leaders are accountable.
Leaders confront – they see problems as challenges.
Leaders read and educate themselves – ALL THE TIME.
Leaders find help when they are down, you can’t help others if you are broken down yourself!
Burnt out leaders are a slow death to a company.
Great leaders work hard at surrounding themselves with successful, like-minded people. You become more like the people you hang with – in and out of work.
Complexity is the enemy of execution. Keep vision and goals easy to understand and follow.