leadership Archives - TAB Corporate

What It Means to Be a Leader in the 21st Century

business leaders

In February 2017, The Alternative Board surveyed hundreds of business owners to find out what it means to be a leader in the 21st century. According to the results, the large majority is very positive about the state of small business ownership. In fact, 95% of those surveyed have a positive outlook moving into 2017, with 62% expecting to increase their staff in the upcoming year.

So what exactly do these highly positive entrepreneurs have in common? According to the stats, more than you’d think! We’ve broken down some of the statistics to find out how leaders are operating in today’s fast-paced, web-driven environment, and what every entrepreneur (and wantrepreneur) can learn from them.

  1. Today’s leaders are driven by positivity. It seems the old adage about faking it until you make it is a real driver for business owners. The number one trait the surveyed business owners reported having was positivity (47%) closely followed by confidence (30%) – both of which outranked passion (27%), personability (26%), decisiveness (23%) and focus (16%).“The most positive entrepreneurs are often the most successful,” says Serial entrepreneur Jen Groover. “There often are just too many obstacles facing business owners to let negativity get in the way.” To harness the power of positivity, Groover recommends business owners recognize failures as learning lessons and surround themselves with positive people.
  2. Business owners in the 21st Century could be delegating more. The majority of the business owners surveyed (67%) agree the area they most need to improve in as a leader is “holding others accountable.” This is likely why 86% of them are working over 40+ hours a week, with the average business owner working nearly 50.According to Bob Dodge, Senior Vice President of TAB Denver West, a reluctance to delegate often comes down to entrepreneurs’ “own personal wiring.” David Levesque, President of TAB Rochester suggests it’s a lack of process. “The key to profitably growing a business is delegation. The key to effective delegation is good” TAB Hawaii Business Coach & Facilitator Valerie Koenig agrees. “Having a process in place allows companies to scale from one to five to twenty employees, but it is a boring and thought consuming task, so many owners never take the time.”
  3. Business owners still value face-to-face communications over telecommunications. Yes, the 21st century is best known for its technological growth and instant communication channels, but entrepreneurs still rely on face-to-face meetings. According to the survey results, the majority of their communications (39.9%) are handled face-to-face, more than online (33.8%) or over the phone (26.3%).“[The] prioritization of speed over face-time grossly underestimates the power of human interaction and the importance of face-to-face communication,” writes Mina Chang in Forbes. “If the point of business was simply to accomplish as many tasks as possible, then yes, an email would probably do. But that’s not what real leadership is about.”When taking over the CEO position of Linking The World, instead of sending out forms and questionnaires to the company’s branches across the world, Chang spent an entire year traveling from office to office. “I met with our teams on the ground, asked questions, and listened to their concerns. These face-to-face interactions built trust, understanding, and a real sense of a shared mission, and this has made all the difference in the world.”
  4. Experience trumps education on the path to success. Only 2% of the business owners surveyed believe an MBA is the most important business training to become an effective leader. Instead, the majority selected “management experience” (40%), closely followed by business coaching (36%).“Generally speaking, an MBA is not necessary for success,” says Blair Koch, CEO of TAB Denver West. “What you learn from your real-time experiences in business typically cannot be replicated in an academic environment. You learn more from your failures than your successes.”
  5. Entrepreneurs could do a better job of planning. Entrepreneurs with detailed plans are in the minority. Only 43% of entrepreneurs believe they have an effective strategic plan, and only 44% are satisfied with their succession plan. Considering the majority of business owners believe their top responsibility as a leader is to “fulfill their vision, mission and goals,” it’s surprising they don’t have a plan in place to reach those milestones.TAB UK’s Operations Director Jo Clarkson recommends entrepreneurs kick off their planning by defining its purpose. “Create a working document that you monitor, measure and hold people (yourself included) accountable to.”

Based on these survey results, today’s leaders can best be described as experienced professionals with a lot of confidence and a knack for communication. What they might lack in delegation and planning skills, they make up for with positivity.

While it may seem that today’s leader must be tech-driven above all else, it seems a dose of optimism is exactly what they need to keep jumping hurdles. If you’d like to improve your leadership skills, The Alternative Board offers a unique peer advisory model that can help you overcome your toughest business challenges. If you’d like to learn more, get in touch with a local board.

 

Why and How Business Leaders Should Embrace Failure

why and how leaders should embrace failure

“Failure” is considered among the worst words (and concepts) in business practices. It connotes weakness, poor decision-making and an inability to ever succeed. But, as Leticia Mooney at Startup Grind writes, “a society that shuns failure and stops making failure acceptable also tends to discourage innovation.

And without innovation, growth isn’t possible.

There are several compelling reasons why CEOs and business leaders should re-examine their notions about failure and embrace new ways of thinking about it. Here are suggestions on how to reframe the concept of failure and leverage mistakes to create new opportunities for growth:

1. Failure involves taking risks, and risk-taking is a good thing. Yes, mistakes can sometimes be costly, but perhaps the real cost is the denial that often comes following a failed enterprise or initiative.

Like just about everyone else, business leaders “don’t like to talk about [mistakes] and bring attention to them,” notes business authors Larry Weinzimmer and Jim McConoughey. It’s more comfortable to gloss over missteps and blunders, but that’s also why “so many leaders have the same struggles over and over again.”

2. Perfectionism can lead to stasis. Leaders often equate “perfect” with “not failing.” But this overlooks the fact that, generally speaking, there’s no such thing as “perfect.” Clinging to a notion of perfectionism can result in a risk-averse culture where no new ideas are ever attempted. And while it’s true that you can’t fail if you never try something, you also can never hope to move forward.

3. Use failure to shift your perspective. CEOs and business leaders often have a “control freak” mindset. If for example, they’ve created a business from scratch, they can point to a fairly good track record of controlling everything so far and succeeding in their efforts.

The hard truth is, you can’t control anyone or anything, except how you deal with failure.

“Obsessing over your failure will not change the outcome,” notes leadership consultant Susan Tardanico. “In fact, it will only intensify the outcome, trapping you in an emotional doom-loop that disables you from moving on.”

By shifting your perspective towards the future, rather than past mistakes, she adds, you can escape that negative cycle “and leave these debilitating, monopolizing thoughts behind.”

4. Learn from failure. Every setback offers a learning opportunity, if for no other reason than you now know what not to do in a given situation. In this respect, failing paves the way to new strategies and risk-taking techniques that build on what’s gone before.

When things go wrong, effective business leaders seek out the hard lessons learned from the experience. They are “unafraid of failure,” because they understand that “without taking risks, change and innovation simply aren’t possible.”

5. Failure highlights the benefits of getting outside guidance. Even with the best of intentions, it’s sometimes difficult to escape a cycle of mistakes and setbacks.

In such circumstances, it’s often a good idea to seek a fresh perspective—and that’s where a peer advisory board comes in. In such groups, business owners learn and benefit from mistakes and growth strategies other owners have tried before them.

As members of a TAB Business Owner Advisory Board, for example, members get practical, real-world, tried and tested solutions to the pressing issues every business owner faces—from successful strategic planning to the recruitment and retention of high-performing employees.

Failure doesn’t have to be an ugly or unwanted thing. And it certainly doesn’t have to be faced alone. Find out how having a network of forward-looking colleagues can help point the way to success by joining a TAB Board today.