Anything of value takes discipline to nurture and make valuable, and nurturing a leader starts early in life, when parents and teachers influence our environment. Looking back, it is easy to understand how influential those in our circle are.
This concept remains important throughout our careers as leaders. We never stop growing and should always seek out the company of those who expand our experiences and opportunities.
Like many Generation X business students and young professionals, I learned from the best early in my career. Many of us looked to Jack Welch. A favorite Welch quote that stuck with me was, “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”
It’s that simple — building and leading a successful organization is about empowering others to win. Look on your office wall. The accolades are there. Your individual wins have already happened, but as a leader, your wins now belong to your team and the organization. Done correctly, your leadership will enable others to produce results far exceeding anything you have or ever could as an individual.
Throughout my career, I have worked with many successful franchisees. Frequently, the interaction was about benchmarking results, analyzing KPI and looking for ways to improve and grow the business. As a leader, I grew to understand the importance of relationships, that first understanding the person and what they wanted for their enterprise and their family is critical. Connecting that with the performance of the business allows you to partner in a win-win.
It was a franchisee who helped me understand the three stages of a fulfilling business life: learning, earning and returning. Your success can be the catalyst for the success of others, and that is the most satisfying success of all.
Aim and focus
Aim and focus are essential in driving organizational success. The team is watching, and our questions, comments and attitude matter. To tackle opportunity, you need to narrow the focus and raise the bar.
Acknowledge the fact that managing complex change is just that — complex. One of the most critical responsibilities of leadership is identifying the keys to success and the ideal order in which those keys must be communicated to your team and executed. To succeed, the organization will need vision, skills, incentive, resources and an action plan. More often than not, if one or more of these things is missing from the equation, the results will be less than successful.
- Do not be blind to the antibodies; every organization will have a degree of resistance to change.
- Know that disciplined data-driven decisions are always the right foundation to grow from.
- Build the muscle within your organization to plan and problem solve with solid analytics.
- Don’t only look at your internal performance, listen to your customers
- Remember that convenience and value are more important than ever.
- Find balance in and invest in your company’s value propositions — both your external and internal customer value propositions. One will not succeed without the other working for you.
The customer benefits highlighted in your value propositions need to be driven by and sustained by your culture, and culture is leadership’s first priority.
John King is COO at Donatos