Two Secrets to Leading a Successful Business

Can I tell you a little story?

Many years ago when I was still working mostly with large corporations I had the opportunity to sit in on an important all-staff meeting.

Not only was this the first time I was meeting with this client in person- but the CEO was there to roll out a brand new initiative- and I was front and center for it all.

So of course I was ready- pen in hand– for this ever so important announcement. The CEO began speaking, explaining the changes to come and throughout his announcement I heard so many great things: their overall goal, tactics and if you know me at all, one of my favorite things- strategy.

But there was something I didn’t hear… and THAT was the problem.

In fact, the more I listened, the more I grew concerned. There was something SO ESSENTIAL to his speech missing- and I simply couldn’t let it go. I knew this was hardly the time to say something… after all this wasn’t a planning session… their decisions were made and this was a (somewhat weak) attempt at catching everyone else up to speed.

Not good.

But still… I had to say something. There’s an old saying that goes: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is today.” And I guess today would have to be that day.

So I did.

Slowly, I raised my hand… stood up… and prepared myself to ask- in front of his entire staff- the question that had been nagging me since the beginning of the announcement:

As important as this clearly was… “Why is this compelling to your audience? Why would they care?”

What came after doesn’t matter… it was asking the question in the first place that was- and still is- important.

You see, the thing about business is that you don’t have to have ALL of the answers to successfully lead your business… but you do need two things:

First…

You have to be able to ask the right questions. Not just in a strategic, hard facts kind of way, but also in an abstract, bigger picture kind of way too. It’s about taking a step back and being vulnerable- and courageous– enough to ask the tough questions.

These questions are far and wide, but as an example, a few may be:

  • Are you investing your resources in the right things?
  • Is there a better way?
  • Is it WORTH doing?
  • What would a great leader do?

Secondly…
You need to surround yourself with people who aren’t scared to ASK the tough questions. These are the people in your corner who will stand up (like I did) and be bold enough to confront the questions that perhaps no one else… yourself included… are willing to confront.

It may seem like these people are calling you out, but I promise, in truth they have your back more than anyone else.

And you need to listen.

Not just absently shrugging them off- but truly listening. In the end, that takes courage too.

Businesses weren’t built in a day and even 5 years into yours you may not have every answer… and that’s OK. The important thing is to have the prudence to understand the strength that comes from asking the right questions… and listening to those brave enough to ask them of you.

When we do this… when we step into that true leadership role… is when you’ll be that much closer to running the successful business you’ve been dreaming of all along.

What do you think? Are you ready to go there… to be THAT kind of leader?

You have incredible opportunities ahead, just ask yourself ONE THING: What would a great leader do?

 

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