I consider myself to be somewhat “old school.”
That term carries different connotations, and whether it’s good or bad depends on in what way you mean it. I’m proud of my old school leanings because it means I respect good traditions, appreciate my heritage, and stick with tried-and-true ideas that have consistently led to success in the past.
But there is another kind of old school thinking that, if you’re a business owner or entrepreneur, can lead to extinction.
Sticking to old ideas that have proven not to work well can make you a dinosaur. I’ve seen people lose their businesses that way while their competition flourished.
Here are three old school leadership ideas that will stifle your business growth and how you can break free from them:
1. You must be the one dominant leader because you alone have a vision for your company’s future.
You know where you want to take your company, and you work hard because you’re the only person who can get it there, but it’s a constant struggle you shoulder alone. This approach is a recipe for failure because it’s utterly unrealistic. You can never be all things to all people in your business. Running a company is a team sport, not a marathon. A quarterback never wins a ballgame alone; touchdowns don’t happen without good receivers to catch passes and blockers to make sure the path to the goal line is clear. You can’t win in business alone, either. A leadership team with a shared vision is essential to growth. You wouldn’t expect to win a race with a boat full of people if you were the only one rowing, so why should you expect your company to work that way? You can be infinitely more powerful with a healthy, cohesive leadership team where everyone sees your vision and is rowing in the same direction to make it happen.
2. Your motto is, “If you want it done right, do it yourself.”
You hesitate to trust others with important tasks because they always mess it up. If this is the way it is in your business, it’s your fault, but there’s a way to fix it: document your core processes. You should have a piece of paper that guides others step-by-step through the processes that make your business go. There should be one for marketing, hiring and orientation, key operational processes, etc. A standard way of doing these things allows others to know what you expect and how to deliver it.
3. You still think finding great employees is a hit-or-miss proposition.
People have been saying good help is hard to find forever, but you can’t believe how much harder it’s getting these days. You’ve hired skilled people who are highly qualified for the jobs you need them to do, but many of them don’t work out like they should, and you can’t figure out why. You can’t build sustainable growth without a sustainable workforce, and to build that, you can’t rely on how good candidates look on paper.
Even the most experienced people will cause problems in your company if they clash with your core values. Whether you’ve identified them or not, you already have core values, and they are your best friends when you’re looking for good employees. If you don’t know what they are, I walk you through an exercise that reveals them in this special report. Once you’ve identified your core values, incorporate them into your interview process. Give candidates a list of your core values and ask them to tell you a story about a time when they lived each one.
People who don’t possess the right values won’t be able to respond adequately. Sometimes they even withdraw their application! These solutions are old school, too, in a good way. That’s because they aren’t new – they are tried and true, and thousands of business leaders have seen explosive growth that started with adjusting their I-have-to-do-it-all mindset.
If you need extra help in these areas, read TRACTION (link)and put its tools and disciplines in place. Leave extinction to somebody else while you keep getting stronger.
Kenneth C. DeWitt is founder of DeWitt LLC, an Alabama-based business strategy execution and coaching firm. DeWitt is a life-long entrepreneur, having been a founding member of two accounting firms, as well as having partnership in other businesses in the retail, agriculture, consumer finance, overseas travel, and commercial real estate industries. DeWitt specializes in helping entrepreneurs and CEOs create highly profitable businesses that serve and enrich their lives rather than control them. During his 30 year career, DeWitt has served over 150 companies with revenues from $1 million to $50+ million as a trusted advisor. His extensive experience has taught him what works — and what does not work — in building valuable businesses that are worth owning, and he brings this to bear in helping organizations implement strategic initiatives that reduce frustrations and improve profits, cash flows, banker relationships, and quality of life for the owners. DeWitt is a published author of two books and over 300 articles on financial and business matters. He has a combined 14 years’ experience as a regular columnist for The Tuscaloosa News and the Commercial Carrier Journal, and frequently publishes op-ed pieces in the Birmingham Business Journal and other periodicals. His monthly newsletter, Alabama Entrepreneur, currently has over 1,500 subscribers and is aimed at helping business leaders get more of what they want out of their companies. DeWitt holds a B.S. in Commerce and Business Administration from the University of Alabama.