Lead by example.
First there has to be clear communication of what the values of the organization are. That needs to be communicated and lived.
Try to lead by example, whether that is the willingness to stay late to do something or come in early or more likely both or to tackle any aspect of something.
Demonstrate there is not an aspect of any job that is beneath them. Everybody ought to be willing to do every aspect of the job and get it done right.
Know how to find the right people.
Part of it is attracting people who are really motivated high performers so that they don’t need a lot of direction. (We’re) populated with a lot of self-directed people, very ambitious people who don’t need a lot of motivation.
They want achievement. Sometimes you almost have to dial them back. That doesn’t happen by accident. You really have to work hard at creating an environment that attracts people like that, where they say, ‘The things that I want to do are going on there.’
Giving them the right work and the right financial incentives to make it rewarding to them is part of the whole puzzle.
Create a positive culture.
It’s building the wall one brick at a time. Every meeting you do, every deal that you work on, you try to do it in a way so people say, ‘I like the way they do business. That seems to me an attractive approach to the marketplace.’
Careers are long-term things that get built out of a countless numbers of small events. Each one of those events is an opportunity to do what I’m talking about - return every phone call, treat every meeting as important, deal with people the way you would want to be dealt with, with honesty and courtesy.
If every brick in the wall is that way, it’ll be a pretty nice wall.
Balance patience with action.
We’re in the deal business by some force of nature. It’s not like gravity. (Deals) happen because people decide to make them happen.
That’s going to be largely influenced by external events that we can’t control. It takes patience to wait for events to evolve to the right condition. It also takes persistence to make sure you’re in the right place at the right time when those external conditions now favor a deal happening.
That means staying in routine communication with the sources of those kinds of ideas and relationships so you know when the right time is to be more active. It’s networking and accumulated experience about how do you interpret where the landscape is today. ‘Should I push hard on this right now, or should I wait a year?’
Learn to lead.
It involves the willingness to do the hard work to get as much good information as you can, the willingness to make a decision based on less than perfect information and to live with the consequences.
Know your weaknesses.
I have enough accumulated experience to know where some of my strengths and weaknesses are. I’m just not very disciplined about time management - I do want to collect a lot of information and I do want to be available to people when they call or want to meet. I’ve learned to strike a balance that works for me.
Get the job done.
I might separate leadership from effective CEO performance. A CEO is there to deliver business results, and they might do it in a way that doesn’t have much in the way of leadership to it.
They clearly overlap, but at the end of the day, the CEO’s job is to deliver the results. If he can do that by being fairly remote or aloof from people in his company, that’s fine. Leadership is a component of that, because leadership is getting people to do what you want them to do, thing they might otherwise not do. That involves having a clear view of what you want to do and why what you want to do is a good thing and having people say, ‘Yeah, I want to be a part of that; I want to participate in that.’
Keep tabs on your strategy.
I gave a presentation to our investors in May, and I started with a quote from Charles Darwin that says, ‘The most important component of the survival of the species is not the intelligence of the species or the strength of the species, but the ability to adapt to change.’ Staying with the plan is fine, but the plan needs to evolve over time to change with the external reality.
Part of the leader’s job is to perceive how the external environment is changing and how the business needs to evolve to address that.
Build a brand.
In any business you’re going to operate in a competitive environment. You want to have the maximum positive impression in the minds of people out in the world when they encounter your business.
We want them to think of Arcapita as a good partner. The same thing is true in any other business, whether it’s the magazine business or the soft drink business.
Outside the organization, in the external world, there are myriad people who are forming impressions and making decisions about things. The brand is a way to try incrementally to influence that in your favor.
Do your due diligence.
There is no substitute for hard work. I learned early on not to make assumptions about the way things were or what other people might already know.
You have to verify everything. There are no shortcuts.
HOW TO REACH: Arcapita Inc. (404) 920-9000 or www.arcapita.com