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Look within to decide if you should continue to lead

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Are you the best person to lead your organization?

The purpose of this question is not to plant seeds of self-doubt, but rather to help you think about the future of your business from a different perspective.

Running a business is a very tough job, evidenced by the number of entities that survive benchmarked years in operation. According to the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy: “About half of all new establishments survive five years or more, and about one-third survive 10 years or more.”

Despite a surfeit of resources available from local Chambers of Commerce and industry organizations, along with self-help leadership books, articles, training programs, peer groups and coaching and mentoring opportunities, some business owners are unprepared and ill-equipped to lead their organizations and their employees.

Could you be the source of what's holding back your business from achieving its best results? Should your purpose in the business today be different than it was during the first year?

Get a clear picture of who you are and how you are as a leader. The most difficult task to determine if you're the best person to lead your organization is an introspective self-examination.

If you recognize things about yourself such as feeling consistently tired, drained, stressed out, bored or complacent, it may be time to take a long vacation.

If you realize you make little or no effort to engage or inspire your employees, have a “my way or the highway” demeanor or lack an innovative spirit, it may be time for you to move into another role in the company.

The longer these symptoms go unaddressed, the more difficult it will be for you to lead, the more stale the culture will get, the easier it will be for your employees to seek energy from positions elsewhere and for customers to find other providers who are innovative and sharp.

To gain further insights about your effectiveness as a leader, consider an independent review where employees can anonymously offer their opinion on your leadership qualities and abilities.

Business owners, of course, will say things such as: “It's my baby. I started this business, and I'll be damned if I would ever let someone else run it!”

Having a closed mind and an overly passionate ego, however, can lead to an exodus of key employees. Or it can start one's business heading for the cliff whenever there is a hiccup in the economy.

On the other hand, successful business-owners can more easily build a dynamic, healthy and thriving organization if they identify and leverage their strengths and surround themselves with employees who bring the best attitudes, behaviors and skills to the organization.

As a leader, you need to have or learn the traits and skills to do this job, and do it well. Otherwise, you put your organization at risk of erratic performance, unwanted employee turnover, health related issues from unnecessary stress and possible implosion.

And, that can become translated into a lack in accountability to yourself, your employees, customers, vendors and community.

Being the best leader for your organization may require you to put the business in the hands of someone else who excels in that arena, while you apply your strengths in other areas where you can best benefit the company.

If you are, in fact, the best person to be leading your organization, make the time to invest in yourself every day.

Sometimes leaders think training and learning is just for their employees. But, by doing things that bring positive energy into your life, you will significantly raise the bar on how you lead, and your employees, customers, vendors and family will thank you for it.

Establish – and honor – goals for yourself that may include things such as:

(1) Take a 20-minute “social” walk outside with an employee at least once a week.

(2) Start a campaign where you and your management team spend at least three minutes a day recognizing other employees for a job well done. The power behind the goodwill created will help to smother any negativism breeding in your company.

(3) Diversify your reading with books such as “The World According to Mister Rogers, The Heart of a Leader” by Ken Blanchard, “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz and “C and the Box, A Paradigm Parable” by Frank A. Prince.

(4) Be a speaker at an industry conference.

(5) Not taking on more responsibilities than you can realistically achieve. When you become overextended, critical decisions and actions can be delayed, making positive opportunities and outcomes more difficult to achieve.

(6) Get out of your comfort zone as often as possible.

¦

Do not wait until your business is facing a major challenge or retirement is on the horizon. Check in now with yourself. Ask yourself the tough questions, and don't be afraid of the conclusions you may draw.

If you are the owner, your business represents a major part of your life. If you are not enjoying the experience, or feel like you are not achieving the level of success you want, look at your strengths and how you can best leverage them.

If you leading the company is not in the company's best long-term interest, take a serious look at candidates who would be. Define a course of action, and get them on board.

Bonnie Sussman-Versace – business leader, entrepreneur and principal of Focused LLC in Wyomissing – is dedicated to developing leaders, enhancing cultures and improving performance for business growth and prosperity. She can be reached at bversace@focusedllc.net or 610-301-2194.

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