Building a great company requires four key ingredients: a unique idea which fills a market need; a fundable and executable business plan which creates significant value; a combination of the exceptional talent and capital necessary to execute the plan; and, solid leadership with vision, passion, courage, experience, and the burning desire to succeed. It is this leadership, at all levels, which ultimately drives success, sets a path forward, overcomes significant obstacles, and achieves sustained growth.
Here are some specific ideas you can implement to build stronger leadership within yourself and your company:
Make Leadership Development a Priority
Customers and products will come and go, but leadership needs to become a part of your company’s DNA. Make it a priority. Link the development of leadership skills directly to compensation or annual incentives. Include character and leadership traits in the assessment of potential employees. Encourage staff to develop leadership skills by taking on leadership roles in external organizations, enrolling in personal development courses, or pushing themselves with tougher assignments. Finally, plan regular events focused on leadership, for example: guest speakers; an endurance challenge; or, a leadership-focused retreat.
Create a Leadership Culture within Your Company
Define your culture; don’t let it define you. Establish, publish, and promote a value system based on leadership traits such as integrity, honesty, fortitude, and perseverance. Make the value system real by encouraging its adoption, leading by example, and rewarding those who embrace it. Create an environment of both excellence and risk-taking, which encourages young leaders to excel without fear.
Develop Your Own Inner Leader and then Practice!
Lead by example and focus on building your own leadership skills. Read the biographies of great leaders, or even better, meet them, and then seek to apply their key principles to your own circumstances. Join a peer leadership group such as MacKay CEO Forums or the Entrepreneurs’ Organization. Set aside time each week to review your progress and determine the actions necessary to improve. Finally, seek every opportunity to practice leadership by being bold, taking the initiative, and then critically reviewing your progress with a trusted advisor or mentor.
Eamonn has a B. Eng. (Electrical) from Lakehead University, MBA (Finance) from University of Toronto, and has completed Executive Education at Stanford University Graduate School of Business. He lives in Vancouver, Canada. Follow him on twitter @EamonnPercy