One of the best parts about living in the Carolinas this year was watching our hometown football team bulldoze its way into Super Bowl 50. Criticism of the Panthers abound all season. They were plagued by injuries, a glaring lack of obvious, big-money talent, and little experience in the post-season. And yet, they made it, producing the best season ever in Carolina Panthers history. Sure, the Super Bowl didn’t turn out as we had hoped, but the Panthers’ 17-2 season is a tremendous victory for an organization that literally defied the odds.
Sports are teamwork in action. The Panthers were victorious this season because talented individuals, even if they weren’t the “best” at their job, worked together toward a common purpose -- at every team meeting, every practice, every game. They were relentless in their pursuit. Can the same be said of your business? Do you have a true team in place, a culture of “all in” for growth, fueled by a common vision and accountability for actions? Or, are you a quarterback trying to win the game by himself?
Old-school “me” leadership thinking stifles business growth. There are three detrimental statements business owners make:
- “I’m the leader because I’m the only one who knows what I’m doing.”
It’s good to know where you want to take your company, but thinking you’re the only person who can get it there is utterly unrealistic. You can never be all things to all people, and you can never be all things to your business. A good quarterback, even if he’s a good runner, eventually has to pass the ball. You do, too.
You will be infinitely more successful when you rely on a healthy, cohesive leadership team where everyone sees your vision and is working to make it happen. Identify and (constantly) communicate your core values, and then rely on the people you hired to help you execute your mission. You can’t do it alone, so stop trying.
- “If I want it done right, I’ll do it myself.”
This is a common mistake among business owners, likely because, at one point, there was no one else to do the work. But now that there is, you need to drop the “I’ll do it myself” mentality.
Document your core processes. Across all aspects of your company -- from marketing to hiring to key operational processes -- document the step-by-step processes you need to make your business run. A standard way of doing things allows others to know what you expect and how to deliver it. It builds in the aspect of accountability, and allows you know immediately where a misstep has occurred.
- “But I can’t find good help.”
You’ve hired skilled people who are highly qualified for the jobs you need them to do, but many of them don’t work out like they should, and you can’t figure out why.
A leader’s greatest decisions involve choosing internal and external teammates based on alignment with purpose, vision and values. Building a sustainable workforce starts at the interview process, where your core values should be incorporated. Give candidates a list of your core values and ask them to tell you a story about a time when they lived each one. People who don’t possess the right values won’t be able to respond, and you’ll be able to move on knowing that the qualifications listed on their resume did not adequately reflect their ability to succeed in your company.
Becoming a high performance team requires building a culture and mindset where everyone is on the same page and working toward a common goal. It’s not an easy task, but it can be accomplished.
Later this month, Dave Zerfoss will be leading a workshop in our office entitled “All In For Growth.” Dave is the former president of Husqvarna Professional Products. During his 18-year tenure, sales grew from $29 to $530 million. Today, Dave is a Master Chair for Vistage International, the world’s largest private advisory board organization for CEOs and key executives. He also serves as an Executive in Residence at Queens University, McColl School of Business, where he works with MBA and Executive MBA students. He is an accomplished speaker and author of two books, Stress is a Choice – 10 Rules to Simplify Your Life, and Stress Less and Enjoy Each Day. This March 23rd event is free and will help you build that team culture so necessary for your success. If you’ve recently found yourself uttering any of the three deadly statements above, we especially invite you to attend.
They say there’s no ‘I’ in “TEAM”. The Panthers seem to have learned that lesson. We hope you do, too. See you on the 23rd.