Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Top Secret Key to your Success

 The following article is the top-secret element of success in your business and any mall business for that matter.  If you read this and implement the strategies outlined you will have a very strong likelihood of success in your business and in your life.  These are strong statements to be made about an article or even a single concept.  The concepts presented are the result of detailed observation of over 50 restoration companies ranging from less than one million in annual revenue to some of the largest companies in the industry.  In studying these organizations there is one unifying factor that unites the successful companies.  This element is top-secret because it is often overlooked in the pursuit of success.  It is overlooked because it is fairly simple and yet it impacts nearly every aspect of your business.  When properly practiced and applied you will see that everything starts to become easier and that you are achieving greater levels of success with less effort.  How can something so fundamental not be present in every organization?  The most likely reason is that it is overlooked, or other items take precedence.

Before I uncover this super secret element I want to discuss organizational success so we are all on the same page.  Success is not simply financial rewards; it is a well functioning organization.  Successful companies that I have seen share many of the same characteristics.  Owners of these companies spend their time working on their business, rather than in the trenches.  This means that they have more than a job, they are working on improving their organizations on a daily basis and in helping create successful people throughout the company.  These companies operate based on systematic processes and tend to be very proactive rather than reacting and responding to outside stimulus.  They have a good balance of work coming from many sources.  Cash flow is strong and supported either through an effective banking relationship or through operations.  Employees are happy and feel like they are valued members of the team and have a role in the success of the company.  The owner has balance in his or her life and finds ample time to spend with family and take vacations.  Finally these companies are financially successful.  Your business should provide a fair return based on the efforts of the team and the financial risk that is taken in running a business.  Most companies will define this financial return in different ways but it should be commensurate with the operational risk as well as the time and financial investment.  Your business should be a resource to allow you to pursue worthwhile things in your life and not a hurdle to becoming the person that you want to be.  Your business should fill a spot in your life and not become your entire existence. 

If you would like to create a company with these characteristics then I am ready to share this top-secret idea with you.  Successful companies are all run by strong LEADERS.  That is right as simple as it sounds, if you work on your leadership skills then you can nearly assure your success since the traits that are exemplified by a LEADER will allow you to focus on the fundamental elements of a successful organization.  I have made a very broad statement that is somewhat nebulous, yet quite simple and it deserves further discussion. 

A web search of Leadership returns over five-hundred million results.  This shows there are many different opinions on leadership and also many different ways that it is practiced and exemplified.  I will try and encapsulate this broad discussion based on my studies and much more importantly, based on the observed elements of the successful organizations that I have viewed. There are many important characteristics of leadership but I feel there are five that are essential.  As you work to improve your leadership I am certain that you will uncover many more that are important to you.  I am not stating that they are not important or even less important.  That being said, your leadership skillset needs to include the following items.  Successful leaders are successful visionaries, are people with a strong and positive character, can effectively communicate, are consistent and predictable and finally area very proactive.  I will explain in detail the elements of each of these characteristics as well as how manifest them in your organization.

One of the primary elements of strong leadership is to have a compelling vision.  Your staff wants to be a part of something bigger then their own position in your company and want to be a part of an organization that is going somewhere.  A strong vision will allow you to attract and keep great talent.  When you create your vision make sure you involve your key leadership team and then put this vision into writing.  It will be a good idea to take a management retreat and get away from the demands of the office for this consideration.  Your vision should be a long-range plan for where you are going.  The timeframe for achievement is just about as far as you can see and in most organizations this is about 5-7 years.   In what areas or regions do you want to operate, what is your perception from your clients and in the community in general, what size is your company, what type of service will you offer, and more.  I like to define a timeframe of when things are working well.  If you create this vision, commit it to writing and communicate often, you will find that you will be able to transform your company.  I like to limit this vision to 5-8 items, this will allow you focus on these items and clearly communicate. 

Virtue will mean different things to different people but it can simply be defined as being a person of value that others want to see become successful.  In order to create a successful organization then your employees will need to work synergistically for this success as they realize that you will benefit from this success.  I have seen many organizations where the key staff holds back or actively take steps to prevent success.  When you help others become successful and are a humble and virtuous person then you will have a strong team that is working for your success.  Your activities in your personal and professional life are in a spotlight.  You need to make sure that you consistent in all that you do to live up to the expectations of your employees. 

Communication skills are often overlooked in leadership.  Organizational communication is fundamental to success.  As a leader you will need to effectively communicate with your staff, clients and stakeholders.  For those of you that are afraid of public speaking, this is bad news.  Part of communication will be one on one conversations and the other more important element is effectively communicating to groups of individuals, primarily your company.  Your words will carry a lot or relevance in moving your staff in a desired direction.  You need to hold at least a monthly staff meeting to discuss your vision and progress as well as to celebrate victories.  These meetings become even more important when you experience set backs and challenges.  You will be looked to for guidance and leadership during these times.  If you do not deliver a positive message then rumors will start and a lot of misinformation will be passed around your office.  The lesson here is that you are the leader of your company and you need to communicate positive messages to your company and consistently talk about your goals, vision and values.

Strong leaders are consistent and predictable.  Your staff should know what to expect when they come to your office, or when you visit then on jobs.  If your employees are not sure how you will respond to situations or if you are not clear and consistent with expectations then you may find they are always second-guessing their activities, roles, responsibilities as well as their performance.  Having strong quantifiable measurements will be essential in this process as you can start to manage results rather than activities. This will prevent you from micromanaging activities as well as having confidence that people are not only busy but that they are producing.  Predictable management is essential in a growing organization.

One of the biggest challenges in a growing organization is to find time to get the required activities complete.  If you fail to plan your business, your role and your daily activities then you will find yourself spending time on time-sensitive activities but these may not be your priorities.  Lack of planning means that your priorities are often priorities placed on you by others.  As a leader in a small business you will find that there are always more activities than time.  The only way for you to grow with your organization is to prioritize and start to major in major activities and remove yourself from minor activities that need to be delegated.  As you step back from your position specifically and look at your business, you will see that your overall organizational activities follow the same process.  I spoke with one person that summed it up will when he said, “before (our strategic plan) we were running 100 miles per hour.  We didn’t know where we were going, but we were running 100 miles per hour.  (After our strategic plan) we were still running 100 miles per hour, but we were going somewhere.”  Effective organizations have a destination and a plan to get there.  This will allow for synergistic activities and performance. 

Now that the top secret of success has been revealed, you have an obligation to become an effective leader.  Stop going through the motions and create a strategic plan to the destination of your choosing and proactively take steps to improve your company.  You owe this to yourself, your company, your employees, your family and everyone that is touched by your company.   In order to transform your company you need to study leadership, read and even take classes if necessary.  After you have the skills and understanding of this process then start the planning process with your leadership team.  Here’s to your success.

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