GREAT Leaders

By January 13, 2015 Leadership No Comments


“Good is the enemy of great.” Jim Collins opened his book “Good to Great” with this powerful statement. As we begin 2015 and roll into executing our plans for this year, there are everyday actions we can take to raise our businesses to the next level. Leading an organization toward greatness means planning to thrive rather than just survive. Take a moment and really listen to the conversations in your office as well as the words you are using. Phrases like “that’s good enough,” “the customer was satisfied,” or “that will have to pass for now” can be an indicator that it’s time to take these steps to shift your company from settling for good to being great.

What makes a company, person, or organization take the leap from good to great? It starts with the leader – you. The leader sets the tone, and you will be the person to lead your team to success. Your staff members are keen observers of how their leaders act and react.

There are five everyday actions that can help you move your business to great.

Great companies begin with great people
Reinforce great behaviors
Every customer experience matters
Always go back to discipline
The leader sets the pace

Great companies begin with great people. Now is the time to top grade your staff. In great businesses the first thing leaders decide is who they want on their bus before they even decide what or how they’re going to do it. Keep your best team members and spend time really recruiting those who will help you develop and improve the business. Your front line will have the biggest impact on both your top and bottom lines. Colin Powell once said “take good care of your people and they’ll take care of the customer.” In great companies, the people in the organization are as committed to one another as they are to the mission.

Reinforce great behaviors. Make sure pay and rewards match your goals. Expect and require exact standards at all times at all levels – this does not mean being ruthless but instead rigorous. By hiring slowly (doing your homework and really getting to know who you’re about to invite into the team) and quickly releasing those not meeting standards, you will find increased longevity. They will either stay on the bus for a long time or get off quickly. “The only way to deliver to the people who are achieving is to not burden them with the people who are not achieving” Jim Collins said in his book. Ask yourself:

  • How do I pay to reinforce great work?
  • Do I need to invite someone to exit?
  • What perks do I give achievers?
  • Do I catch people doing things right?
  • Each day do I call out to someone on the team?

Every customer experience matters. This subject is most near and dear to my heart as it is our customers who will ensure we thrive. Our customers are not an interruption of our work…they are the purpose of our work. Take time to talk with your customers. Ask them what is important to them when doing business with you. Share great customer experience stories among your staff so they innately understand what a great customer experience involves. Each great business is built one customer experience at a time. A satisfied customer may not stay loyal to us. They expect to be satisfied. Great companies take it to the next level by ensuring their customers are not just satisfied but delighted in the service they received.

Always go back to discipline. This is perhaps the simplest yet most difficult action to stay with. Great companies employ disciplined people, keep disciplined thoughts, and take disciplined action. Often it is the smallest everyday decisions that make the biggest difference. For example, coaching invoices every day with every technician requires discipline to do but only five minutes per technician per day and can reap rewards of higher job averages, more informed technicians, and stronger management. Strong discipline often requires an organization to look into what it must stop doing before it considers adding more. Look to where you can eliminate waste. Ask yourself:

  • What do I do each day to create a culture of discipline?
  • What should we stop doing today?
  • How can I help my staff create good habits?

The leader sets the pace. Great leaders are often described as passionate about what they do. People do what they see and great companies have leaders who set the example. Share your vision with everyone on your staff and be engaged in the business. Great people want to work for engaging leaders. Help them develop a sense of responsibility to the team first and then to the mission. Do that by seeking responsibility and taking responsibly for your actions.

It is said the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago and if you missed that then today is the day. This is the perfect time to decide to be a great company. You control its success and this is the ideal climate to plant that seed of greatness.

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