It's one thing to be a great individual achiever by outperforming and outselling everyone around you, innovating the coolest breakthrough ideas, mastering the work that feeds your passion—perhaps even leaping tall buildings in a single bound. Yup, there's nothing like being at the top of your personal game and recognized as a rockstar in your chosen field. It's what's possible when you have the courage and tenacity to relentlessly push yourself beyond the comfort zone of "ordinary" to "extraordinary."
It's something completely different to lead and inspire an entire company of people to do great things. It doesn't matter if there are five, 500 or 5,000 people looking to you for direction and inspiration, it's just not that easy to get that fire in your gut to burn bright in others. As a leader or entrepreneur, your dream was to grow a company—not be a cheerleader, disciplinarian or babysitter. Heck, just getting employees to show up on time for a meeting or follow a new policy can be herculean task. It's that "people thing" that keeps getting in the way. It wears you down and takes all the fun out of growing a company.
So, if you admire how some leaders get employees to do great things, here are some no-compromise leadership absolute must-do's:
- You must want it the most: I'm not talking just about grand visions of growing a company here. I'm talking about that fire in the eyes, burning in the gut, nothing less than 110% will do, success at all cost, level of "wanting" that endows a leadership with courage and passion. People follow and are emotionally lifted up by leaders that believe in achieving the near impossible. Why? Because they believe great things are possible too. I'm not saying that a leader should come across as the Wizard of Oz or some superhero. I'm saying that a leader must want to succeed ten times more than those they lead. No one wants to follow a task master or a leader who fears failure or confrontation so much that he or she has no fight left. If you want people to do great things, you must want those great things the most. Otherwise, you're just striving for mediocrity.
- You must clarify thinking and behavior: I could have written "clarify expectations" but I wanted to go deeper. Clarifying expectations is like a laundry list of performance requirements. Go deeper by clarifying the thinking and behavior that will embody the company's culture. Culture is about thinking and behavior, not expectations. "We show up early for everything we do," speaks volumes about the core values of a company. "Don't be late for meetings," sets you up to be a disciplinarian. There's a profound difference between showing up late and breaking trust and shared beliefs.
- You must celebrate the right stuff: You can't inspire people to do great things when you're leadership has devolved into catching people doing things wrongs. Tell me I did something great and I'll do more great things. Show appreciation when I do something great—even if it's just a high-five—and I'll do more great things. Celebrate and appreciate when people step up at team huddles, gatherings or in company communication tools and more and more people will step up because they get the thinking and behavior that makes their company great.
- You must inspire "Accountability xTen": One of the tenets of no-compromise leadership is "Everyone is responsible." I call it Accountability xTen because it entrusts everyone to take ownership in the success of the company. It rids the company culture of indifference and "I don't care" thinking and behavior. It fast tracks change initiatives. It accelerates efficiency, performance and growth. If something is wrong, broken, dirty, late, etc., own it and fix it. When "It's not my job" infects a company, great things can't happen.
- You must surround yourself with "A" players: Steve Jobs was fanatical about hiring only "A" players at Apple. He believed that lowering your standards to hire a "B" player would quickly spread to his "A" players. Jobs was relentless when it came to innovation and getting everything right. Accept mediocrity and that's what you'll get from your people. It's not easy going no-compromise, but it's what leadership is about.
Neil Ducoff is the founder and CEO of Strategies, a business training and coaching company specializing in the professional beauty industry. Neil is a business trainer, coach, keynote speaker, an award-winning author, and the creator of the Team-Based Pay System. Neil is the author of Fast Forward, the definitive business resource book for salons and spas, and No-Compromise Leadership, winner of the 2010 IPPY Award for Business. Since 1993, Strategies has been transforming salon and spa businesses into dynamic, profitable, and sustainable team-based cultures. For more information on Neil and Strategies, go to www.strategies.com.