November 5, 2014

6 Counterintuitive Ways to Become a Better Leader

Great leaders can practice these seemingly counterintuitive tips regardless of raw talent.Leading a company and its vision can be a daunting task. There are always forces pulling at you, often in different directions. Being a great CEO is as much about grit as it is about talent so many elements can be learned but also need to be practiced. Most great CEO's I know have these things in common, and are more than happy to talk about them:

1. Hire well and delegate

Surround yourself with amazing senior leadership and let them worry about the "how", while you set the expectations of the results they need to achieve. If you cannot delegate, your business will never scale. If you do not have great people around you, then you will have a harder time delegating--so focusing on this area will actually improve several areas of your business and skills as a CEO in one shot.

2. Avoid micromanaging

As a CEO, everything you fail to manage routinely will start to decay and you will find areas of your business will stall or move backwards. To get great results out of your team, you need to manage them constantly, but it's the results you should manage, not the path they take to get to the results. Be sure to articulate what your expectations are and the timeline, but refrain from dictating exactly how the tasks get completed.

3. Set your priorities and stick to them

Instead of trying to be all things all the time, concentrate on a few areas of your strengths that coincide with your company's needs but only stay involved at the right stages of those needs. For example, bringing in new opportunities for the business is often a critical function for a CEO, but it does not require the CEO to develop each opportunity to completion. For the business to scale, a CEO's instincts, vision and charisma should result in finding and attracting new opportunity, but the sales team and operations team should be able to take those deals and manage them to a result.

4. Learn to say 'No'

One of the hardest daily elements of leading a company (or anything for that matter) is that you need to constantly disappoint people to help keep the big picture goals on track. Many people have a tendency to want to please others, or find it difficult to deliver bad news. While this may make you a "nice person" it does not make you a good CEO. You do not need to take pleasure in disappointing people or standing up to confrontation, you just need to practice it, so you can get it done when the situation calls for it.

5. Think long term, but react daily

One of these easiest ways I balance my professional life as a CEO is by not getting too caught up long-term thinking. No matter how difficult a period my company is going through, I find I can handle it by chipping away at one piece at a time. Sometimes it's as simple as breaking down the problem into pieces and working on a piece each day. This is ironic as many believe CEO's should always be operating on longer term views, but there is enormous value to breaking those big strategies down and taking them one day at a time.

6. Constantly reinforce your vision

And do not be afraid to repeat it over and over. Making change happen is extremely difficult, and the larger your business becomes the more difficult it is to shape it as you see fit. Your team members will always look to you for constant re-alignment on where the company is going, as they should, because smart employees know that business vision is subject to change.

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