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What it really takes to be the best
May 27, 2013 | By Neil Ducoff | 3 Comments
Growing a great company has nothing to do with luck. It has to do with your leadership ability to surround yourself with the best players; to innovate, execute, and make good decisions; and to manage cash while capitalizing on opportunities. Throw in a healthy dose of accountability and being the best just may be within your reach. And if you do become the best, you’ll quickly discover that it takes just as much hard work to stay at the top of the game as it did to get there in the first place.
Every company starts out wanting to be the best, but things happen along the way that keep pushing that coveted title further and further beyond your reach. A few years of bad decisions, cash-flow challenges, and dealing with toxic employees can sap a leader’s mojo and self-confidence. When a company’s thinking and behavior is stuck on average – i.e. not actively pursuing the extraordinary – the outcome, as expected, will continue to be average.
Here are some no-compromise strategies to help you be the best:
- Stop talking about it: When all employees hear is, “We’re going to be the best,” followed by little or no action, they stop listening. More importantly, they stop believing. Being on the pursuit to be the best is an exciting journey full of hazards, amazing discoveries, and rewards. But the voyage doesn’t truly begin until the train leaves the station. Leaders take their companies, people, and customers to extraordinary destinations. Stop talking about it and kick it into fast-forward.
- Take responsibility: Seriously leaders, it’s not your people that are holding you back – it’s you. Leaders are notorious for pointing the big finger of blame at their employees. Well, who hired, trained, coached, evaluated, and inspired them? Who isn’t playing by the same rules employees must follow? Who is so busy working on other stuff that employees aren’t getting the attention they need? Being the best means that you must bring your best game to work every day.
- Have a vision and keep the drumbeat: Your vision of what being the best looks like must be presented in extreme clarity to each and every employee. Everyone must know what your standard of the best looks like, what their roles are, how it’s measured, and how the culture will change. Then, relentless communication must kick in to maintain momentum and focus. If you make that big announcement and fail to follow it up with relentless long-term communication, your train will sputter and stall within sight of the station.
- The tough stuff: For leaders, there’s a price to pay in being the best. It means working through those unpleasant leadership blockages that hold you and your company back. If you don’t like making unpopular decisions, dealing with difficult employees, or following a budget, average will always be your best. If you’re a micromanager, average will be your best. If you’re all about the numbers rather than your people, average will be your best. If you don’t trust anyone, no one will trust you…and average will be your best. Got it? No compromise.
- A higher standard: To be the best, you must set your company’s success bar high enough to make it stretch, feel the burn, and grow. Holding everyone to a higher standard of thinking and behavior is non-negotiable. Commitment and passion are infectious. You’ll know you’re on the right track when vendors, customers, and business associates take notice. Excellence always stands out in a sea of average.
- Yes, it’s a culture shift: Change initiatives that elevate an entire company always involve a culture shift. Culture is the collective thinking and behavior of a company. A company simply cannot achieve next-level success without going through a culture shift. Leading a company successfully through a culture shift is the hallmark of a No-Compromise Leader.
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