As a business owner and former professional athlete, I have had the wonderful opportunity to speak with many groups. I would venture to say, one of the most frequently asked questions is, are there similarities between successful businesses and athletic teams?
I believe building a successful organization begins with leadership, and my primary responsibility is to help our team achieve our desired outcome. As the leader, I serve as the catalyst to finding those solutions and achieving our desired outcomes.
Leaders have many common traits, most of which relate to the fact that they care about others and give of themselves. You cannot lead by command and control. People have to know that you care about them and their success. This can be achieved by creating a value structure to support their efforts as they work to be the best they can be. I use five filters when assessing my own leadership style:
- Leaders need to be clear about communicating their vision. Your people will be inspired to follow when they know you are focused, passionate and committed to their success.
- Leaders must engage the right people whose character and chemistry matters. The best leaders recognize that more important than vision or strategy is building a team of people who believe in each other and in the organization.
- Leaders understand the need for the right strategic approach. They build strategy around the desired outcome, around strengths, around opportunities and around resources.
- Leaders know how to access the right resources. Understanding the needs of your organization and where to acquire capital, talent, technology and information will determine your ability to compete in the marketplace.
- Leaders focus on the right rewards. Those rewards begin with your people knowing that you genuinely appreciate their efforts, that you are fighting for the goal along with them and that the goal is something that is worth their efforts. Other things, whether monetary or some form of award, are subsets. At the end of the day, we all want to be appreciated for what we contribute to the shared success of our organization.
Good leaders are responsive and adaptable, and know that in order to be successful they must expect the unexpected. Finally, leaders must lead by example. As you contemplate where you are going, remember people hear what you say but they watch what you do and respond accordingly. The great coach of the Green Bay Packers, Vince Lombardi, said it best, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”
These are personal filters that have been very helpful to me and I hope they will be helpful to you.
I’m rooting for your success.