Do you agree with Harvard on these leadership mistakes?

Are you arrogant, selfish, and untrustworthy?

From a leadership perspective, the 7 minutes of this video might be worth watching. After listening to their professional opinions I found that all of them could be alleviated simply by following the “4 C’s” of leadership. Many of these leadership “C’s” have been presented by individuals such as Zig Ziglar, John Maxwell, and Marshall Goldsmith.

Candor –

As a young leader, I found candid conversations a real challenge and looking back with hindsight can point to real failures, caused by organizational dysfunction, due to my fear of candid conversation. Candid conversations are a leader’s responsibility, and if an employee is not meeting the company needs it hurts the organization.

Leadership is about influence, and influence cannot be achieved without clear candid communication. Care is the baseline of the relationship with your team, but candor can direct and expand the relationship. Once a relationship of respect is established, candid truthful communication can grow the relationship, the individual report, and the business.

Connection –

Can you recall personal information about each one of your team members? Foods they hate, books they like, their favorite after work activity? Leadership influence is dependent on your ability to connect with those around you, and switch your mindset from that of a solo producer, to a people/team developer. You can’t move people to action unless you move them first with emotion, and that is only attained through understanding yourself and communicating with openness and sincerity. If you focus on your team rather than yourself, believe in them, and live your message you will connect. Lastly, a good leader lets his team enjoy the lights of success, while taking the responsibility personally for failures.

Character –

Character personifies who you really are. It’s the inner core of your being. It is your inner self in action. It reveals what you are truly made of, it’s your substance. Character is who you are when no one is looking and the easiest thing for your team to sniff out as fake.  Character is only achieved through self-discipline and living a respectable set of core values.  Character is what sustains meaningful relationships, and without relationships your ability to lead and influence others is weak.

Competence –

A competent leader is simply demonstrating the work ethic and intensity he/she is looking for from their team. A competent leader will be emulated by the team. What makes a competent leader? Show up daily with your war face on, competent leaders show up when they’re expected. But highly competent people take it a step farther. They don’t show up in body only. They come ready to play… hard – no matter how they feel, what kind of circumstances they face, or how difficult they expect the game to be. Secondly, demonstrate personal growth and keep improving and most importantly… follow through and accomplish MORE than expected. Willa A. Foster remarked, “Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.” Competence at this level is inspiring and as Simon Sinek says, “Leadership is inspiration, nothing more, nothing less.”

Go Lead!

“40 million dollars, the whole global market is only 40 million dollars.” said the self proclaimed “old gray hair” and my long-term mentor across the table after reading my report on the market size of the company we were involved with. With a heavy sigh he simply said “the business DNA just sucks”.

Every business has a DNA… similar to human DNA… and that DNA sets the scope and global potential of the business.

Just as I will probably never play Major League Baseball as my personal DNA has set my baseball skills capacity at a maximum of “Little League Coach”…  some businesses simply don’t have the DNA to match the leadership team or owners short and long term expectations. Like opening a Hot Dog stand on a rural route, in a “city” with a population of  700. Even if that business hit it out of the park and was as successful as it could possibly be… the owner would likely be grinding it out for the rest of their life simply to get by. Yet entrepreneurs do it everyday with high expectations of business success.

I have met and spoken with a number of entrepreneurs who have big dreams and high expectations for their business ideas.  I applaud them and firmly believe that success is achievable if you are willing to put in the time and effort. But, decisions some entrepreneurs make in the heat of the moment as they file their state and federal tax ID forms bring me visions of a Vegas wedding to someone you just met.

Before you get involved with or start a business, take a minute to examine the DNA of that business and picture very clearly in your mind what the absolute maximum potential for success that business may have. Then, work backwards to clarify what is going to be required to get there, what is the time frame, the financial requirement, what is the longevity of the business, and the market response necessary for that success.

Most recently I was contacted by a Dentist who was looking for distribution for his new “battery powered toothbrush cleanser”. A simple contraption that was designed to clean the microbes from a toothbrush between brushings. He had left a thriving dental practice, and invested his life savings, to pursue his dream of manufacturing and selling his invention.  He had hit the wall and was becoming frantic trying anything and everything to get his product to market. He was a victim of poor business DNA. Not only is the market size for toothbrush cleansers about as large as a hot dog stand, his invention was more expensive than existing products, bulky, and had low margins. His business DNA just sucked.

Some things you can change within a business, with good leadership, talented people, and personal growth the “lid” on the business can move up. But, recognize and examine the DNA of a business before you take that first leap, it may save you from a nasty divorce with your Vegas bride.

“What got you here won’t get you there.” – Marshall Goldsmith

I had a conversation recently with a local business owner we occasionally contract work to and have since the company was founded. He shared with me how amazed and confused he was at how well our company had grown, even despite the “recession”. I responded simply, “Individual growth equals company growth”.  He looked at me as if I had just shared with him the location of the lost city of Atlantis.

It is a simple concept, that you as the business owner or team leader, as well as the people around you can only grow the company if you are growing personally.

So what is personal growth? Personal growth occurs when an individual intentionally sets out to improve their knowledge and skills in order to move themselves closer to their true potential. As a leader you have to not only set yourself on an intentional path of personal growth, but you have to create an environment that supports the growth of your team.

Without personal growth, people lack inspiration, they become stagnant and their work suffers. Additionally, simply doing the same thing they did yesterday isn’t going to produce better results today than it did yesterday; we have to grow and develop daily to create improved results.

I have talked to a lot of business leaders who say they have a “growth plan” for their teams.  Usually it involves the entire team reading the same sales or customer service book and meeting to discuss it, or attending a class or lecture together.  While this is good, true growth occurs on an individual level; hence “personal” growth.

I try to work with each of my team members to find the area of growth that inspires them and will most benefit them individually.  While I may focus on leadership growth, they may be inspired by learning about improving communication, science, business models, philosophy, public speaking, or video production. Finding what inspires each individual is what keeps a team motivated, as well as dynamic when brainstorming or approaching issues as a team.

Personal growth must be individualized, intentional, expanding of one’s capabilities and contributions, and start with curiosity. Create a personal growth environment and your business will grow with the people.