More than most entrepreneurs running their own business have a very personal understanding of the euphemism “The buck stops here.” As a matter-of-fact, the idea of having that kind of control over their destiny is often the main attraction for opening their own business. On the other hand, it can get lonely at the top. Whether a long-time successful entrepreneur, or a start-up entrepreneur one can always benefit from the experience and expertise of others, especially when that person happens to be Denny Strigl, former CEO and President of Verizon wireless.
After 41 successful years that include making Verizon one of the top wireless companies, Strigl decided to share his insights not only on the future of the wireless industry, but also share the wisdom he acquired during his long career as to what behaviours define the managerial leadership it takes to grow successful businesses and careers in his book “Managers Can You Hear Me Now?” — and entrepreneurs should take heed because they must be superlative managers in order to grow successful businesses.
It is extremely helpful for entrepreneurs to know what they should be doing – but, when examining our own behavior, it can be even more helpful to know what we shouldn’t be doing. In a post written for youngentrepreneur.com, Marty Zwilling gives us a hand up by identifying nine habits Strigl covers in his book that managers all struggle with. Here are “the nine”, with a slightly different take.
Failure to build trust and integrity.
People like to do business with people they know, like, and trust. The same can be said when it comes to working for an entrepreneur – your team needs to trust you and the only way to obtain that trust is to always act with integrity.
Focus on things that don’t really matter.
It is all too easy for entrepreneurs to waste time chasing down the tangential. Before veering off course ask yourself: Does this grow revenue? Does this increase our customer base? Does this retain customers? Does this reduce cost and increase profit? If you don’t hear at least one yes, you’re probably just treading water.
Shirk accountability and role model.
Entrepreneurs create the culture that regulates the climate of their business – and climate impacts behavior. How you behave when it gets too hot in the kitchen impacts your team. Are you modelling the behavior you expect from your team?
Fail to consistently reinforce what’s important.
Just as marketing messages must be repeated often and clearly in order to be effective, entrepreneurs must provide their team with the same in order to stay on course.
Over-rely on consensus decisions.
Entrepreneurs certainly want to take advantage of their team members skills and expertise – but this doesn’t mean every decision will be unanimous. It is the team member’s responsibility to provide you with information and your responsibility to make a decision based on that information. Wasting time getting everyone to agree can mean missed opportunities and requiring consensus can lead to the kind of “group think” that paralyzes progress.
High Priority on being popular.
Being popular doesn’t get the dishes done. Entrepreneurs must make decisions and provide guidance in ways that don’t always sit well with all team members.
Get caught up in self-importance.
Put their heads in the sand.
Ignoring or making it uncomfortable for your team to report things as they really are doesn’t make problems go away. This is actually a great way to grow problems.
Fix Problems, not causes.
Every problem has an underlying cause, and every “fix” needs to include solutions that address the causal factors of a problem. Sticking your finger in the hole when the dike springs a leak may seem to work, but only until the damn bursts. Don’t make problems “prettier” by fixing them – make them go away by solving them.