What would be your Cardinal Rules for Leadership?

Earlier this year, I asked that question to Houston based Steve Brody, a Group Chairman, affiliated with Vistage International’s Keepers of the Flame what would make his list. He started with “…fail often and quick then debrief and learn from your mistakes, refine your process and move forward.” Why do you as entrepreneurs risk everything month after month, year after year? What does “right” look like for a successful small to mid side business owner, president or CEO?

At our Austin All City Event on June 14th at the Renaissance Hotel, I came away with why my members are on this journey. Why does a peer group bring value to 15 business owners? See if these five bullet points resonate with you?

• Consistency – as a company leader, a department or team manager being consistent is critical in developing and expanding your leadership priorities and center of influence. Whether you are strong willed (my way of the highway which is a dying breed), or a collaborative, consensus building individual, be consistent. When you are, your team or employees can predict your behavior and know when you are having a good or bad day. Two of my members have a very structured company culture and process, another one basically let’s his team run the show. It makes sense that to maintain consistency for your team, short-term changes must be framed within the long term vision. Members challenge each other answers and help make the impossible possible.

• Communication – I am a strong believer of structure, job descriptions, due diligence and most importantly one-to-one’s. Any time there is a shift in attitude or priority, you need to communicate to the organization as quickly as possible the new direction and why. Structured one-to-ones, scheduled in advance and honored by both parties is the cornerstone to successful communication. Make this sacred time for you and your direct reports to better get to know each other and thus trusting in each other. Set up via Outlook and hold each other accountable. Both of you have questions that need answering, so have your direct report use this as a weekly, monthly or quarterly check in and score card deliverables past, present and future. What is most important vs. what is urgent? Avoid surprises at all costs and if you aren’t monthly use the “…from the desk of …” to assist you in reaching your complete organization as well as your key customers. One of my members since the 1st of January is meeting with each of her top 10 customers with a simple message “…Thank you for your loyalty and it is my goal to continue to earn your business. …if one day our brand promise isn’t meeting your expectations here is my business card for you to call me and voice your concerns.”

• Control Emotion – This is so important it is one of my prerequisites in being selected into one of my CE groups along with being passionate toward your company purpose, wanting to take you and your company to that next level and being a lifelong learner. Reasonable control over your emotions is essential which enables us to discuss the undiscussable.

• Change Management – My sense, because of the speed of business today, each of you are change agents. You can’t rely on what you use to do; you must continue to tweak your business model, improve your processes and refine your software to get more done with less. Your team needs to see your positive, forward thinking attitude and behavior which will affect all of your employees. Several of my peer group members are doing just that. It’s challenging, exciting and forward thinking. Changes to the work process need to be communicated to all employees in a multitude of methods. Communication should be ongoing and frequent and provide employees with the opportunity to have their questions answered.

• Creativity: The ability to devise innovative ways of working outside the traditional mode. Team building sessions, off site retreats add incredible energy. Bring in outside talent and assistance if you don’t find you are making the progress you desire. Two of my members are focusing on culture and purpose. Deep serious transformations that will take months if not years to complete. Why because both are in the service and hospitality business and know that exceeding customer satisfaction is essential to a sustainable service business.

In closing, let me leave you with 3 questions for you to ponder?

Who holds you accountable to what matters most?
Who do you turn to with your most crucial decisions?
When do you take time to focus on the future?

Let’s connect if you want to get to know, like and trust me. If you live in Central Texas, I would be honored if you gave me a chance to assist you as I do my members.

Published by edstillman

I grew up in Carlsbad, north San Diego County, lost my dad as a teenager, went into the USAF for four years and hired on with 3M in 1969. Received my AA from Santa Barbara City College, BA and Masters from Redlands University and after 33 plus years, I retired from 3M in 2002. As I look back on my life, I have been creating myself and developing my skill sets to be a business coach and a Vistage Chair. I am president of SEOT, a "personal improvement" consulting firm spending most of my time working with Central Texas executives running small to medium size for-profit companies who are focusing on improving their profitability greater than their competition. My area of interest is assisting senior executives in creating a better balance between business commitments and personal relationships. I also facilatate three leadership labs each consisting of a dozen owners, presidents and CEOs. We meet monthly both in a group setting as well as in a 1-to-1 coaching session. Our focus is to sharpen each others' skills in becoming better leaders, making better decisions and taking ourselves and companies to that next level. Who are we? My members are experienced top executives who recognize that they don’t have all the answers and who actively seek the company of successful peers—both to give and receive insights and ideas. My members mine the 200 plus years of chief executive experience that comes together in our monthly meetings and members are eager to offer their own experience and insights in the process. As a group, we spend our time exploring topics members can't discuss anywhere else. My members have many other places where they can engage in idle, "cocktail party" chatter. Our mission is to provide the setting for discussing the "undiscussable." Where or who can you go to for confidential, honest feedback to assist you in minimizing your personal "Worry List"?

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