Practice every day.
You would never ask a professional sports team to go out and play the most important game of the year and just say, 'We talked about this a little bit back in the locker room, now just go do it.' This is about developing the systems, processes and behaviors through practice.
Every day you have a chance to practice. You might have a conference call with a client or an internal team meeting, and you want the leader of that meeting to practice leadership and communication skills and get better every day.
It's about incremental steps that each person can take that help them improve. You add all that up, those incremental steps are making big steps for the company.
Envision potential when hiring.
Mistakes are made in the hiring process by hiring someone that has specific subject matter expertise in the functions for which you're hiring. Generally, that's going to come back to bite you.
It might take a month. It might take two years, but if you're hiring based on subject matter expertise, you're not evaluating leadership and management potential. As a result, that person will run out of gas when it's time to move to the next level.
It's easier to hire someone that understands the subject matter and has contacts or specific knowledge of the technology or the market. That's the path of least resistance.
If you take a step back and say, 'What's best for this organization, not only in the next few days, but in the next few years?' oftentimes you're not talking about someone who knows the ins and outs of the widgets. It's somebody who has a lot of potential as a person.
Empower employees to be self-starters.
We emphasize four senses: a sense of service, which is having everyone understand we're delivering a service that is critical; a sense of accountability to clients; a sense of urgency - that doesn't mean everything has to be done by 5 o'clock today; it might mean you're working on a project that's going to take two years, but there's certain steps you need to be proactive. You need to ask questions, provide updates, be a self-starter.
That goes to the last one, which is a sense of empowerment. If you get into a situation where you feel you are not empowered - there's something blocking you, there's something causing resistance - take a deep breath. Look around. Take a half-step back and try to figure out why you do not feel empowered. Reach up - ask somebody.
Reach down - ask somebody. Look left. Look right. Figure out the right questions to ask, the right steps to take to unlock the deadlock.
Trying to help people with those four senses and understand how they can be powerful as an individual and on the team makes a difference.
Create a reference for measurement.
Measurement is absolutely critical in determining progress and success. You're going to see different types of success based on what you're measuring and why you're measuring it. It's important to set goals and the relative range so you can track it.
If you can't measure it, you can't track it. If you don't set the right range, the tracking isn't going to mean anything.
In every category, you have to figure out a way to quantify it. Saying, 'We can't quantify it,' that's not good enough, because you can always create an index, always create a range. Being able to create a reference point and create a target is critical in measuring success.
Think holistically in running your business.
If I emphasize the financials, I can turn out to be a jerk as a leader. If I'm too focused internally, then I'm losing ground with clients and our sales efforts. That's the biggest challenge for any leader in terms of how do you balance your time.
It needs to be calibrated based on what your company is going through, what the industry is like and making sure you're calibrating to drive the company forward in a way that's productive and in tune to the situation.
Balance your work and personal life.
The word balance is so loaded because it's so important. If you don't have a balance between your work life and personal life, you might as well light the fuse to some sort of explosion that's going to happen.
It might take a couple months. It might take a couple years, but it's going to happen.
Schedule time in Microsoft Outlook for you to exercise, have lunch with your children, do something with your partner or spouse. Outlook isn't just a tool for business - it's a tool for your life, so schedule your life in it.
Create opportunities for yourself.
Build a business based on fundamentals. At the same time, be aggressive about accumulating information, accumulating insights, and be open to acting on those insights through some type of experiment.
We as managers often want to put things in a box and manage it in a box. Giving yourself and your company the chance to let it ride - to let it rip here and there - is critical, as long as you have some mileposts.
Give yourself a milepost 'In 90 days we're going to check in, see how we're doing. Recalibrate, keep it going, stop it, whatever the case might be.'
It's not just throw caution to the wind. Give yourself the chance to run down some dark alleys, where you don't know what's going to happen.
Those are things that are hard to do as managers. To be successful, you have to create those opportunities for yourself. That's the special sauce of being a combination of entrepreneurial and opportunistic as well as systematic.
Develop your decision-making style.
Everyone's got a different way of making decisions. Find the right style that makes you feel comfortable with those decisions. As long as you develop some consistency in that style, folks will understand you.
You might be someone who understand things through your five senses, so you may need to see it, feel it, smell it before you can make decisions, and that's fine. If that's the case, put your hardhat and glasses on and walk the shop floor. Ask questions there - don't look at a spreadsheet.
Understand yourself as a person and what makes you tick. Unlock that and be yourself. That will help you understand things better and make better decisions.
How to reach: TRX, www.trx.com