10 Ways To Become A Better Leader

Yesterday I told someone the story of how I lost $100K before I even started the business. It was doomed before I spent the first dollar. Man, I was a terrible leader during this time.

But it reminded me that the best way to learn is to do. I can describe what it’s like to cry over a failure. But until you live through it, you can’t own the experience.

During our meeting, I started thinking about some lessons I’ve learned over the years. We are living in a leadership economy. It’s easier than ever to execute on an idea if there is enough leadership know-how in place. Ideas are dime a dozen. In fact they are a dime a hundred. Or more. It’s still all about execution.

With that in mind, here are 10 Leadership Ideas that have worked for me. They can quickly be implemented and leverage big change, both personally and professionally:

  1. Have A Vision — I’m not being mystical here. Write a story about where you are heading. How many people will you need to hire to get there. How will you fund it. Then tell the story to everyone you encounter. Bankers, vendors, employees, partners, wives, husbands, friends, everyone. Check our Cameron Herold’s “Vivid Vision” for a tremendous start. If you do this, you’ll be ahead of 99% of businesses. Try it for your personal life too. Powerful.
  2. Hire A Coach — all the best athletes in the world train with a coach. Jack Daly reminded me that Tiger Woods won his first Masters and then completely reinvented his swing the next year. He intentionally went one step back to take two forward because his coach objectively evaluated his long term plan and knew changes were necessary. We need someone to understand who we are, what drives us, and where we want to go. As the saying goes “it’s hard to read the label when you’re sitting in a jar.” Know who you are, where you want to go, and how you’ll get there. There’s no sense in reinventing the wheel.
  3. Outsource Your Weaknesses — focus on your strengths. Do what you love and then partner things you don’t like doing. It’s that simple. If you’re a great salesperson and you need someone to operate the business, then find a co-founder to handle that part of the business. Need a website? We are in an outsource economy now. Hire someone from fiverr.com. Spend your energy understanding what makes you tick and then scale that. Be honest with yourself.
  4. Understand Your Numbers — this isn’t just knowing your numbers. Anyone can look at a P&L and memorize the digits. See the movements between your P&L and the Balance Sheet. You’ll make better decisions quicker over the long haul after you clearly recognize what drives each line. The entire business simplifies this way. You’ll also realize that 90% of businesses share the same DNA.
  5. Use Technology — study and offer online webinars to become an expert in your field. Automate webinars to build your email list and drive traffic to your office. It’s amazing how easy it is to let technology do the heavy lifting. You literally can do two things at once now — sleep and do an online seminar in Asia.
  6. Understand Social Media — it’s so easy to get caught up in the ROI of Social and then talk ourselves out of spending the money to fund it. However, if you were looking for a vendor and saw two billboards of competiting firms, what’s the first thing you do when you get home? You look them up online. Would you go with the company who has zero presence online, or the one that has a nice website, active Twitter feed that engages within the industry, and a Facebook Fan Page with 2600 likes? There lies the ROI.
  7. Be Physical — I was overwhelmed yesterday. I went for a run. I felt better. I can’t emphasize this enough. We are nomads and we need to move. Get out and do something. Take a walk, do some pushups, jumping jacks. Anything. It will affect your bottom line. I promise.
  8. Empower People Through Mentorship — no one wants to be told what to do. Spend your time showing them how to improve themselves and give them to freedom to fail and succeed. Like they said in China a long time ago: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. You’ll generate so much goodwill that people will bend over backwards to perform. It’s a huge ROI.
  9. Surround Yourself With The Right People — someone can have the right tools to get the job done correctly, but they must be a culture match also. Life is too short to be around those who drain you. Only be around those who love and support you — both personally and professionally. We only have a certain amount of energy to use every day. Ensure it’s being used wisely. Make this a non-negotiable.
  10. Go To Seminars With Your Entire Team — the other day I saw Jack Daly live. He’s one of my favorite speakers and I’ve probably seen him 6 times now. But this was the first time I brought my team. It was no longer just me absorbing the content and then throwing it up all over my team. They heard it directly from the horse’s mouth and it lit a fire under our whole company. They are now coming up with their own plans. I am now there to help guide them. Mentorship. Empowerment.

Would I lose the money all that money over again? Yes. Without a doubt. It taught me so much about people, business plans, life choices, and how to handle disaster.

It’s made me focus on what’s important — honesty, loyalty, doing what you say you’d do, etc. Even when I had a choice of walking away from contracts by dissolving the business, I met with my vendors and negotiated my way out of them. It was my bag to carry. Not theirs. That was probably my biggest takeaway. It’s not what you do when things are going right, it how you handle it when everything is skidding sideways.

Live and learn. Or rather, live by learning.

@jamesashcroft

www.jamesashcroft.com

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