When you think you set the bar too high, you’ve actually set it too low. A high goal may at first seem intimidating, but it will spur thinking about possibility. The trick is having a roadmap to get there, so people don’t think the journey is impossible. Once you gain traction, you won’t hear about the goal being impossible. You’ll hear, “What else can we do?”
Change only works if it leaves everyone better off. Too many times a change initiative makes one area in the business better, but leaves another area worse. When that happens, the organization rejects the change through active and passive means. Change that leaves everyone better off is the only change that sticks.
Making a mistake isn’t the problem. People will make mistakes as they grow in the company and their career. The trick is getting them to a place where they can make mistakes without major consequences. And if you are hiring senior people, you need to learn what mistakes they’ve already made and what they learned. Otherwise, you run the risk of them making a needless mistake with you.
“Getting the right people on the bus” is the wrong metaphor. It suggests passivity — you amass a group of good people and they go for a ride. The right way to think about putting together a team is that you’re filling the chairs of an orchestra. On their own, each person must be an outstanding player. But, for the piece of music to work, they also have to play together in harmony.
You need to be clear about what has to be accomplished, and you need to share it broadly. If you don’t, your brilliant team will turn into a second-grade soccer match; it’ll degrade into a bunch of people running around, without a strategy, pushing the ball all over the place, but not necessarily towards the goal.
Most people’s toes curl when they hear the word “risk.” But risk can be a competitive advantage. In learning what can go wrong, you also need to understand what can go right. Once you know that, you can minimize the impact of the downside. If you can find a point of distinction in being able to manage risk better than your competitors, you have a decisive advantage.
Be like Lincoln. He had a depth of understanding about himself, which allowed him to keep himself in check and learn from failure. And through that journey, he was able to learn what drives others and how to bring out the best in them. To lead others, you must lead yourself first.
Your personal leadership style ripples through your company and community. If you go to work as a grump, everyone will feel stressed and they’ll suffer. If you go to work feeling optimistic and centered, people will want to accomplish big things. The way you show up has ramifications far beyond you.
Running your business well isn’t just for show. A business is worth exponentially more when it is well run. The math bears this out. An example of the same business, pre- and post-transformation based on a real business transformation:
- Pre: $10MM EBITDA x 3 multiple = $30MM value
- Post: $30MM EBITDA x 8 multiple = $240MM value
As EBITDA grows, the multiple expands dramatically. And that’s all due to running your business well.
The best surround themselves with the best. Top performing companies hire the best talent, work with the best partners and surround themselves with thought leaders. They continue to get better because they are constantly innovating and growing.
Businesses exist in an ecosystem that comprises the business, the community, the people who work in the business and the stakeholders of the business. The strength of the business has a profound impact on those that it touches. As the business becomes more successful, it employs more people and generates a host of benefits in the community and for stakeholders.