Posted: September 20, 2010
Does it have to be lonely at the top?
Here's the answerBob Dodge
As a business owner, you have no doubt experienced how lonely it can be at the top. It doesn't have to be lonely, though. Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto to talk with. You don't have to go it alone; in fact, there are several reasons you should involve (listen to) others.
Talk with your employees to find out:
1) if they understand why you expect them to complete critical tasks. If they are not convinced, no amount of training will help! The must have the desire to do so.
2) if they have the capabilities (time, tools, skills and resources) to accomplish what is needed for the organization. Telling your team to "just do it" if they lack these capabilities will only frustrate them, and eventually you. You and the employees will benefit from discussing your vision and priorities; providing opportunities for employees to learn. Demonstrate to your employees through your actions that you are committed to these mission-critical activities.
3) if they know the consequences of their actions. If employees are not motivated, they'll never perform. Be prepared to provide those (positive as well as negative) consequences to avoid problems down the road.
As a result, you might hear some great ideas to improve the business! After all, they are the ones actually doing the work!
Talk with your customers to jointly consider how they experience your product or service.
1) Maybe there are additional services you might provide that customers would value (and pay for). These are opportunities to capture additional revenue.
2) You might discover that your company is currently spending time, money or other resources on activities and features that your customers don't value.
At least they'll appreciate the gesture to at least look at the business relationship from their perspective.
Talk with your peers. You might be surprised that other leaders face similar challenges as you. Regular conversations with these executives provide a safe way to explore ideas and learn from one another.
Talk with your coach. Consider getting a coach to help you explore and accomplish taking your business to a new level. A good coach will help you listen to yourself!
These examples of communicating are all actually acts of listening. Most business leaders can and do inform, motivate, sell, and convince. Effective leaders have also mastered listening! How could listening to your employees, customers, peers or coach affect your business? Would you feel like less of a Lone Ranger?
Bob Dodge is senior partner of The Alternative Board - Denver West. He helps organizations improve customer loyalty and employee engagement, coaches leaders in leading changes, consults with organizations to manage changes and is a popular speaker and writer. He can be contacted at 303-550-0101 or bdodge@TABDenverwest.com. His website is www.TABDenverwest.com