The Truth about Leadership for Building a Fun Business

leadership

The Ten Truths for making business Fun

The Ten Truths for Making Business Fun

And building a business that sustains you for years to come:

This is the fourth article in a monthly series on Making Business Fun: This article is about the 5 business management Truths

The last article laid out the five building blocks of management of a fun business and you can read it here

The articles are based on my book, The Ten Truths for Making Business Fun, published in 2011. All of my books and other resources are available for free here

Building a Fun business: Leadership

What does it take to be the leader of a Fun business

leadership in a fun business

Great leadership in business can (for a while at least!) compensate for less than perfect scores when it comes to profit, passion, planning and many other pivotal aspects of running a Fun Business that sustains you for years to come.

If you are a great business leader of your people, then you’ve taken the Leadership Truth from my first book (download it for free here) to heart: “Your time, your health and your brain cells are gold,”. It’s also likely that you live the Truth from my second book (download it for free here) about leadership: “You have passionate beliefs, you walk the talk, and you are not afraid to dream,”. If so, you will more than likely have a business that does better than most.

I also once wrote that “a leader is simply someone we trust, and who is courageous, authentic and passionate.” This is clearly a great starting point because if your people don’t trust you, then no amount of systemisation, marketing or planning will get your business past a subsistence level. Inversely, when your people do trust you, see your courage and feel your passion, you will be forgiven for many other shortcomings.

Now, I’m going to invite you to take this thinking one step further.

Fun for Everyone

A Fun Business should be Fun for everyone involved. It should also sustain everyone – not just the owner – for years to come.

When I say everyone, I actually do mean Everyone (with a capital “E”): you, your family, your staff, your staff’s family, your suppliers, your contractors, your customers, your investors and even your community.

In fact, I am completely convinced (from everything I’ve seen and studied over the past 35 years!) that truly great small businesses are founded by and built around a leader who is committed to building such a business, for everyone.

Servant First, Leader Second

TTTMBF helping hand In his book “Good to Great”, Jim Collins talks about the concept of “Level 5 Leadership”. Leaders who operate at this level are passionate, authentic, driven and ambitious – but not for themselves.

Level 5 leaders are ambitious for their organisation and their people. Their ego doesn’t get in the way of how they run their businesses. They might be heading up massive global corporations, but they still fly economy (like the founder of Ikea) or do their own shopping at the supermarket on Saturdays (like the founder of Walmart) or answer their own phones (like the CEO of Nucor Steel).

This concept has a lot of parallels with “servant leadership”. Robert Greenleaf at Harvard University coined the term in the 1970s, but the idea has been around for much longer (a famous Chinese general wrote about something similar thousands of years ago). As Robert Greenleaf explains: “The servant leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead… (versus one who is leader first…).”

In my experience, every small, medium and large Fun Business that sustains all for years to come is run by a leader who sees their role as servant first and leader second.

Small Supermarket

A great example of this “leader as servant” notion comes from a client of mine who owns supermarkets. I remember the day we were discussing the structure of his business and we had drawn a new organisational chart in the traditional hierarchical model – the classic pyramid structure.

My client sat on top of the pyramid as the CEO. He had two different top managers below him, a bunch of store managers in the middle and all the shop staff at the bottom. We spent a lot of time talking about the structure and it became clear that my client was feeling uncomfortable.

We got up and walked around the room a little and suddenly his eyes lit up while he was stood on the opposite side of the table. “That’s it,” he said, “I am going to turn the pyramid upside down! I see my role as being at the bottom, not the top. My role is to support everyone in the business to do great work and grow as people.”

My client had that insight in 2010 and now his company has grown into a Fun Business that sustains everyone and will undoubtedly do so for years to come.

There is a quote by sales guru Zig Ziglar that illustrates the same principle: “You can get everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

Your Homework (The Fun Kind)

Think about some of the greatest business leaders of the modern era. Don’t imagine the rock star leaders who are household names for a while and then cash out and let everything fall apart behind them. Focus on the quiet, enlightened leaders of businesses that grow and develop year after year without fanfare.

In order to build a Fun Business that sustains you for years to come, you need to strive to become an enlightened leader. These leaders are committed, driven and ambitious. However, they don’t do it for themselves. They do it for the business and its people.

What can you do to embody enlightened leadership? It could be anything from regularly sharing helpful insights and nuggets of wisdom with your team to honing your emotional intelligence in order to find more empathy for others. No guru necessary – I promise!

Remember, if you want to have something you’ve never had before, you’ve got to be someone you’ve never been before.

Next Month, I’ll be talking about the myths of business growth

More on this topic:

 

Fun is All That Matters: A Small Business Masterminds Webinar Podcast

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Whyis Fun in Business more important than any other KPI?

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The podcast of the Small Business Masterminds Foundation Webinar on Fin in business, why it matters so much and what it takes to build a Fun business that sustains you for years to come

Small business Masterminds Foundation webinars are held every second Thursday… for Free… Go to this link to register for the next one now.

Masterminds Observations… Lunch

verne harnish Business Masterminds Observations

 

Predictability

If you enjoy this article click here to get a copy of one of the “The Ten Truths” books for business owners for free

I read Verne Harnish ‘Mastering the Rockefeller Habits’ on camping holiday a year and half ago.

Thinking about the Rhythm of business and focusing on making business as predictable as possible, Verne relates how the famous John D Rockefeller had lunch with his key people, every day. Verne says: “Consciously or not, Rockefeller understood that the word company means: To Share Bread. He knew that by gathering his top people every day for a meal that their professional and personal relationships would be strengthened.”

I love that quote by Verne Harnish, because I think it is really useful be reminded what the word company actually means. It is absolutely about a group of people – we are in company with people, we don’t create and run a company on our own, it is all about the people.

Grandfather

grandfather

Sep 2013

What becoming a Grandfather taught me about Business

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The Hat and the Beard I’ve become a Grandfather in the last few months.

Of twins even….

Everybody’s very happy and the girls are gorgeous and cute and they’re eating as if the world’s running out of food soon.

These are my first grandchildren and the experience is really interesting… but more about that later.

Another thing that happened is that I just finished reading a book by Dan Pink: “To Sell is Human”. The book is all about selling (in all its forms) in today’s world and how to do it well.

My client

Coincidentally I found myself working with a client who employs a number of consultants. The development of my client’s business is hampered by the fact that many of his consultants are challenged in the area of sales. My client is a great sales person and has always been able to make sales and now finds it very challenging to work out how best to manage and coach his consultants to improve their sales performance. The consultants are mostly very willing and excited, but they experience all sorts of fears and anxieties in the area of sales and would rather poke their own eyes out with a blunt stick than to “ask for the business” at the right moment.

So what is the connection between my grandfather-hood, the book by Dan Pink and my client’s consultants?

Vincent and the Captain

captainIn a recent article I wrote about Change and the Comfort Zone, (Read the article here: https://www.newperspectives.com.au/archives/change-why/ ) I told a story from my recent past. I’d come to realise that a self-belief and self-image I had was no longer serving me and that it was time to change. I had come to the realisation that my self-image of being a ”Struggling Artist”, Vincent,  had to be replaced by that of a “Captain”, Captain Roland.

What I didn’t write about was the process I went through, and the experience I had while replacing Vincent with the Captain.

The process was quite tough, but also really powerful.

Transitions
transitions Famous management consultant and author William Bridges explains that any change process must go through three stages or transition.

Stage 1: Endings (or leaving the “Comfort Zone”)

Stage 2: The “Neutral Zone” (or being in the Wilderness)

Stage 3: New Beginnings, arriving in the “New Zone” (or getting to “The Promised Land”)

Every human Change-process goes through these three stages.

And each stage is integral to the process of Change, you can’t step from stage 1, The Comfort Zone, straight into stage 3, The Promised Land, however much you might like to.

What actually happened

So when I wrote in my article that I went from seeing myself as a struggling artist to believing myself to be “The Captain”, I omitted what actually happened in between.

What actually happened was that I found myself in the Wilderness for a considerable length of time and what is more, The Wilderness was a very uncomfortable place to be. The whole process probably took 6 months and the first month especially was extremely uncomfortable, painful even, for me.

Welcome to the Wilderness

wilderness Here is what we all experience, when we embark on, or are forced into a process of Change:

When you step out of your Comfort Zone you will immediately find yourself in a strange place, where you don’t recognise the world and yourself anymore and you will you feel lost. This is the Wilderness.

Much as you’d like to, you can’t actually get to The Promised Land yet, because it simply doesn’t exist yet. You actually have to create The Promised Land before you can get to it. In other words, you have to develop the new “You” first, and the only place you can create the new “You” is in the Wilderness. It is only when we are totally free from the constraints of the Comfort Zone that we are able to develop our new “selves”.

The new You

signThere is no other way. The Wilderness without its boundaries is the zone of maximum resourcefulness and maximum creativity; it is where you can start to shape the new “You”, that will allow you to move ahead into the Promised Land.

This was exactly my experience when I decided to leave Vincent the struggling artist behind and set out to become “The Captain”, Captain Roland.

I did lot of soul-searching and for a number of weeks I’d get up early in the morning and sit on a park bench by the water just writing and thinking.

Slowly but surely I started seeing my way forward. I realised that I had to start by changing my look and behaviour and how I sounded. If I was going to be The Captain, I had to behave, look and sound like The Captain.

The Captain’s uniform

captain's hatFrom that day I decided to only wear a certain kind of outfit (the Captain’s uniform). I also had a piece of jewellery made in the shape of my company logo that I wore on my lapel (the Captain’s insignia). I practiced walking into rooms differently and I wrote and rehearsed scripts for how to introduce myself. I actually even introduced myself as Captain Roland in some environments.

I can assure you this felt awkward for a while, but over time it became more comfortable and I slowly started to identify with being the Captain.

Grandfather

Now I’m back to becoming a grandfather a few months ago. Let me explain how that experience is connected with the story of the Captain, the conversation I had with my client and the book I read by Dan Pink.

dan pink Firstly: Dan Pink makes a number of powerful points about what it takes to sell products, services and ideas in all human contexts. Some of the main points he makes are that selling is a normal human condition, and that it is about a lot more than selling used cars; That selling isn’t only done well by “natural sales people’, everyone can learn to do it well and finally that to do it well involves fostering a new mindset… Change in other words.

Secondly: My client’s consultants have to change. They have to take on board what Dan Pink says about what it takes to sell well and they have to change their mindset about sales. In other words, they have to change their self-belief and they have to change how they see themselves, their self-image.

Thirdly: Grandfather-hood has had an interesting impact on me. It is just another change process, a transition, for me and I realised last week that I am in the middle of The Wilderness in relation to this Change in my life. Yes I do feel weird about being a grandfather, the only one amongst my friends and peers.

Looking in the mirror

I simply don’t know what it means yet for me to be a grandfather and I have trouble picturing myself as a grandfather. The classic image or archetype of a grandfather is not what I see when I look at myself in the mirror.

But that is exactly how it should be… it’s perfectly ok, I can trust that I will get out the other end of this experience and that I will work out what being a grandfather means for me. I will become clear about what I want to see when I look in the mirror, 6 months from now.

Changing all the time

moses We go through change all the time. As I said in the previous article, our business (and our life) is what it is because of who we are today, so if we want to change an aspect of our business (or life), one thing is certain: we have to change first.

My client’s consultants have to go through Change too. They have to step out of their Comfort Zone, close the door behind them and stay there. And while sitting in the discomfort of the Wilderness, they have to start creating their new selves, so that they can enter the Promised Land. The Promised Land where they have become the kind of person that can go out and make sales, good sales.

As friends, partners, employers and bosses of people who are going through the Wilderness the best thing we can do to support them is to acknowledge that change is hard and weird and can often be frightening. We can reassure them that they do have the courage and resourcefulness to create their new selves and enter The Promised Land. And we can hold their hand (as it were) and be with them while they are in the midst of the turmoil and weirdness. By doing so we might make it a little more bearable for them to stay in the wilderness and hence employ their resourcefulness to create their new selves.

Hold their hand

So my client can best support his consultants by helping them to picture themselves as great sales people, to imagine the world from that vantage point and to start to feel what that is like. All the while “holding their hand” as it were while being in that unfamiliar place, until they start to feel more comfortable, bit by bit.

The moral of the story is this: Learn to accept that the discomfort you are feeling is ok. It is actually ok to be scared and anxious and to feel a bit lost or out of control. You have every reason to trust yourself. After all, you got this far… didn’t you!

babies I’ve consciously experienced a number of these transitions in the past 10 years and the outcome of each one of them has been unexpected and very positive. I see no reason to believe that learning how to be a Grandfather will be any different …

Especially not if you knew how cute those two little girls are.

I suggest You can Trust yourself too.

Honest,

Captain Grandfather Roland

See – Feel – Change

Business Masterminds Observations

SEE-FEEL-CHANGE

switchI read a wonderful book by Chip and Dan Heath a little while ago called “Switch”, “How to change things when Change is hard”

The book is full of wonderful anecdotes and really clear explanations of powerful concepts about change.

The authors explain how most people believe that if something needs to be changed, that we need to go through a process of ANALYSE-THINK-CHANGE, build a business case in other words with figures and stats and graphs. Sadly that turns out to be one of the least effective approaches to building a momentum for change… A vastly more effective approach is SEE-FEEL-CHANGE. In other words let people see and feel the problem and the effect of the problem and help them see and feel the change and the effect of the change to get them on board.

So if you’d like people to “get” why something in your business needs to change… demonstrate… speak to their feelings… tell stories

1001 Business Bedtime Stories… When Courage Leads to Money to Spare

1001 Business Bedtime Stories… Truth 4: Cashflow

Ever wondered why sometimes we don’t succeed, even when we know how to solve a problem? Find out how Vivienne overcame her cashflow problem and now couldn’t be happier.

Once upon a time… a long, long time ago in a country not unlike Australia…

Vivienne owned a consultancy that helpe

Truth 4 – Financial Management

d businesses implement OH&S practices in their workplaces.

She worked hard and had plenty of clients. She knew her market and had priced her services appropriately, but found she was forever struggling to pay the bills at the end of the month. There was nothing wrong with her profitability.

Cashflow was the obvious problem. But knowing this didn’t solve it.

Each week Vivienne thought, “I know my cashflow is hurting the business but it’s hard to makes changes and I don’t know how to do it.”

Vivienne was losing sleep.

The Bootcamp

When Vivienne joined me in The Bootcamp two years ago she made a wish and committed to it. She said:

“I wish to have money left over at the end of each month, and I am going to do whatever it takes to get there.”

So we got underway…

Now it didn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that the first step on the path was to design a consistent debt collection strategy… We worked out a system of weekly actions and follow-ups and, most importantly, Vivienne vowed to stick to it with machine-like consistency.

So she did… and it took a lot of courage.

Vivienne started using the system, week in, week out, no matter how unpleasant some of the phone calls were or how yuck she felt getting debt collectors involved. She had the courage to honour her commitment to herself and to keep going until her cashflow problem was solved.

After six months of this relentless focus, it was clear that Vivienne’s business and her life would never look the same again.

Now… two years later, Vivienne is putting cash aside every month in an investment account and, I might add, she looks 10 years younger.

And Vivienne will live happily ever after… The end.

Ask yourself… Where will you find the courage to make profound things happen in your business?

Tony Had a Cornershop

A 1001 Business Bedtime stories… John had a cornershop

Here follows another one of the “1001 Business Bedtime Stories” … Every story comes straight from the New Perspectives Small Business Bootcamp, stories of business and courage . You might recognise some of them from your own experience.

Once upon a time… a long long time ago in a country not unlike Australia… John owned a cornershop in the inner city…

Running a cornershop in the inner city is hard, there are corner shops everywhere and then there are the 7-Elevens and city express stores and even Woolworths and Coles get in on the act from time to time.

The hours are insane, profitability is minimal and the Competition is just crazy.

Tony often caught himself thinking: “How can I escape this trap of deadly competition with my neighbours, so we can all have a better life”

The Bootcamp

Working in The Bootcamp with me, tony came to realise that the only way to escape the competition trap was to make the competition irrelevant.

The way to make the competition irrelevant is by making yourself truly unique, by creating something that is completely different from everything else out there.

So he did… it took a lot of courage… But Tony decided to become “The Best Small Supermarket in Sydney”.

The day he made this decision, everything changed. Sydney has great corner-stores, handy convenience stores, big Coles and Woolworths, sexy delis and grocers, but there is only one “Best Small Supermarket in Sydney”.

2 Years later, Tony opened a second store and he is now looking for his third. Tony’s customers love him and love stores, profits are many times what they were 3 years ago and Tony is creating something really special in the Inner City of Sydney

Ask yourself… Where will you find the courage to make Profound things happen in your Bushiness?

Find out more about the Small Business Bootcamp here

Or follow this link to New Perspectives Business Coaching