Listening on your team is important one

There’s no one “right” way to lead a business. Today’s leaders have a lot of wisdom to impart about managing the modern workforce, because each one approaches leadership in his or her own unique way. Every week, Business News Daily will share a leadership lesson from a successful business owner or executive.

  • The leader: David Steinberg, CEO of Zeta Interactive
  • Time in current position: 9 years
  • David’s philosophy: “Lead by listening, and focus on sustainable, rather than rapid, growth.” (Click to tweet)

I realized early in my career that the sum of your team is greater than its parts — CEO included. It’s impossible to single-handedly lead over 1,000 employees around the globe on your own, or know in-depth what each is doing.

The greatest success in my position as CEO has come from speaking less and listening more. By focusing on hearing colleagues rather than aiming to constantly provide direction as CEO, you’re much better equipped to see the full picture of your company’s collective strengths, weaknesses and needs. Doing this, you can see where you may need to make adjustments to push impactful innovations and bolster areas where you see great potential.

Spending energy and resources to force an organization to move in a particular direction because you’re stubborn is a sure-fire way to failure. Prior to Zeta, I started a company called InPhonic, which was named the fastest growing private company in the U.S. by Inc. in 2004. However, to maintain our rapid growth strategy, we relied too heavily on debt to help accelerate our course. We grew extremely quickly, but then when the financial crisis of 2007 happened, we had to restructure by filing for bankruptcy.

I’ve made sure not to make the same mistake twice. At Zeta, we only allow growth that we can handle and that doesn’t jeopardize the overall business. While calculated risks to achieve goals are important, understanding your business’s needs today should be your No. 1 priority as a leader.

I’ve spent nearly 25 years leading different companies, and by making “listen first” my mantra, I’ve never had better relationships with my employees, stronger perspective on my business or more clarity on the direction for my company — because I rely on the entire organization, rather than my gut, to tell me what we should do next.

How to Build A Humble Team

There’s no one “right” way to lead a business. Today’s leaders have a lot of wisdom to impart about managing the modern workforce, because each one approaches leadership in his or her own unique way. Every week, Business News Daily will share a leadership lesson from a successful business owner or executive.

  • The leader: Danielle Applestone, CEO and co-founder of Other Machine Co.
  • Time in current position: 3.5 years
  • Danielle’s philosophy: “Cultivate a team that freely shows appreciation, respects the learning process, and is kind to customers.” (Click to tweet)

If you want to do something with a hugely positive impact, you can’t do it alone. You need a team of people that really love working together. If you are building something that has never been built before, everyone you hire will not know what they are doing. If you want to create something that will outlast you, every customer needs to be treated with care. They have very long memories, for better or worse.

We’ve been through so much as a hardware and software company trying to survive in the Valley. We’ve taken money of every color: government funds, consulting cash, crowdfunding, angel, VC, venture debt and finally, customer dollars. There have been at least half a dozen times this company should have died. But we didn’t, and I believe it is because we have been open about our failures, learned quickly, and respected ourselves and our customers. We had faith that if you give your all to something that matters, you will succeed.

I wasn’t always the person who spoke up about my ideas. I was sculpted into this person by my mentors. I have been fortunate enough to lean on people who lovingly, yet forcefully, called me out when I was waffling. Some of these people are my peers, and thankfully three of them are on my board. The summary of their advice was: sometimes you really only have one shot. If you spend too long talking quietly, no one will hear you, and you will run out of time.

A bird doesn’t care what other people think about its song; it just sings because it feels so good, and that’s what it was born to do.

 

What is The Advantage Of Mentorship Opportunities

There’s no one “right” way to lead a business. Today’s leaders have a lot of wisdom to impart about managing the modern workforce, because each one approaches leadership in his or her own unique way. Every week, Business News Daily will share a leadership lesson from a successful business owner or executive.

  • The leader: Heidi Morrissey, vice president of sales and marketing at Kitchen Tune-Up
  • Time in current position: 13 years
  • Heidi’s philosophy: “Ensure the people around you have the tools and mentorship to achieve their goals, because ultimately that’s what helps a company succeed.” (Click to tweet)

Prior to joining Kitchen Tune-Up, I worked as a teacher and then in direct sales, and I credit both to having a profound impact on my outlook on leadership now. I was able to work in so many different facets — from training others to large speaking opportunities and working closely with colleagues and clients — and had so many valuable encounters with people from all walks of life.

I have learned so much from franchisees, employees, colleagues, business coaches and life coaches, and I try to use every informal interaction as an opportunity for mentorship. They’ve helped shape me into the leader I am today.

Leadership roles have always been natural to me. I’m fortunate to have been a member of many organizations and groups, and when I reflect on my time with many of them, it seems that I transitioned into leadership positions easily. It’s never felt like a burden to me.

The Reason of Breeds Success

There’s no one “right” way to lead a business. Today’s leaders have a lot of wisdom to impart about managing the modern workforce, because each one approaches leadership in his or her own unique way. Every week, Business News Daily will share a leadership lesson from a successful business owner or executive.

  • The leader: Carmelo Marsala, founder and president of the Spray-Net franchise
  • Time in current position: 6 years
  • Carmelo’s philosophy: “Being a great leader is about making sure each team member is happy. Happiness breeds success.” (Click to tweet)

After working for three seasons as a student painting franchisee with College Pro during my time at Concordia University, I realized that there was a need to bring the quality of a factory paint job to the homes of consumers. With the help of a few chemists, we developed our proprietary line of paints and started Spray-Net in 2010. In 2013, I began working with business coach/franchise consultant, Patrice Belair, who formerly worked with Dunkin’ Brands, and started franchising Spray-Net in Canada.

After being featured on Season 10 of “Dragon’s Den” (the Canadian version of “Shark Tank”), we sold locations in every major urban center coast to coast obtaining country-wide coverage. Now, we’re expanding into the U.S. and our first location is opening this October in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

This entire experience has, and still does, push me to be the best leader that I can be. Now that we’re launching in the US, my leadership skills will be pushed to new heights as we develop our international footprint. It’s of the utmost importance that I set a positive example and ensure the teams in both countries are as happy as possible. This, in turn, will allow for continued success for Spray-Net.

How to make small team to big one

There’s no one “right” way to lead a business. Today’s leaders have a lot of wisdom to impart about managing the modern workforce, because each one approaches leadership in his or her own unique way. Every week, Business News Daily will share a leadership lesson from a successful business owner or executive.

  • The leader: Luke Anear, CEO and founder of SafetyCulture
  • Time in current position: 12 years
  • Luke’s philosophy: “Empower small teams to make big changes and create a company culture that you want to be a part of.” (Click to tweet)

I want to create a culture that I want to be a part of each day — where everyone can contribute to a single vision and people feel they are valued over profits. I believe in being honest and learning people’s limits early on, but then challenging them to grow beyond those limits.

Bill Smith, my first ever employer, taught me the importance of honesty, even when it hurts. He also said, “Listen to your accountant, take advice from your lawyer, but never let them run your business.” He fired me for turning up late several times, and then he became my mentor for 22 years until he died.

I am also inspired by Steve Jobs and his clarity of purpose and relentless obsession to create the best possible customer experience. He also demonstrated the power of what can be achieved when a small team of people believes they can change the world. When Steve decided to come back as CEO of Apple, he was motivated not by greed, but by the fact that it was the right thing to do.

How to Help Your Team

There’s no one “right” way to lead a business. Today’s leaders have a lot of wisdom to impart about managing the modern workforce, because each one approaches leadership in his or her own unique way. Every week, Business News Daily will share a leadership lesson from a successful business owner or executive.

  • The leader: Randy Wright, president of Cottman Transmission and Total Auto Care
  • Time in current position: 5 years
  • Randy’s philosophy: “Give your employees many opportunities to put their best foot forward and shine in their areas of responsibility.” (Click to tweet)

In order to serve as a great leader, it is important to lead by example. One memorable moment in my career was when the chairman of the Board of Western Auto once told me, “Businesses are not buildings, lighting, strategies or formats. Businesses are people who should be respected, nurtured and allowed to be leaders of their business areas.” I took this advice very seriously when I first heard it.

Another experience that guides many of my leadership decisions comes from an adult karate class I joined a few years ago. During my training, I learned many Japanese words, including “Osh,” which means to “move bravely forward to the new and unknown.” I feel that this experience is a regular occurrence for any leader that wants the best for their team.

What to do if you have a younger boss

The age and work experience of a boss impact how committed employees are to their employer, new research finds.

The study found that older employees who work for younger bosses with less education and work experience have a tough time developing loyalty to their employer. This is especially true when the younger managers are transformational leaders who try to inspire their subordinates to work for the good of the organization by motivating them through their strategic vision, communication of the vision and commitment toward the vision, according to the study, published online in the journal Personnel Psychology.

Orlando Richard, one of the study’s authors and an associate professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, said transformational leadership is supposedly the best type of leadership to inspire followers.

“But what happens when your boss is less experienced or younger than you? You are less likely to respond to their leadership style,” Richard said in a statement.

That negatively affects older workers’ levels of commitment to the organization because they feel they are more qualified than their boss is, Richard said.

If employees are not highly committed to the organization, it can have serious consequences for employers: A lack of loyalty can hurt productivity, performance and retention rates, Richard said.

“From an HR standpoint, I think it’s important to make sure that you have the right leader in place, because if employees feel that the wrong person is in charge, there could be negative consequences for the organization down the road,” Richard said. “No one wants to work for someone who they feel doesn’t have the credentials.”

For the study, researchers examined workplaces in both the United States and Turkey. In both countries, they found that having younger or less experienced workers in charge of employees who were older or who had more tenure weakened the relationship between transformational leadership and the attachment that an employee had to his or her organization.

Interestingly, the research revealed that a boss’s gender had a stronger link to employees’ commitment to their employer in the U.S. than it did in Turkey. In the U.S., women had a tougher time than men in getting their younger subordinates to develop commitment to the organization, the study found.

“Women in management have to especially have the credentials in order to demand respect,” Richard said. “If they do, and they display transformational leadership, they’ll experience more commitment from their employees.”

In Turkey, men had a tougher time getting their subordinates to develop loyalty to their organization than women when they had less experience and education and tried to display transformational leadership.

The study was co-authored by María del Carmen Triana, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Ilhami Yücel, an associate professor at Erzincan University in Turkey.

 

The important to value and listen

There’s no one “right” way to lead a business. Today’s leaders have a lot of wisdom to impart about managing the modern workforce, because each one approaches leadership in his or her own unique way. Every week, Business News Daily will share a leadership lesson from a successful business owner or executive.

  • The leader: Mehran Assadi, president and CEO of National Life Group
  • Time in current position: 7 years
  • Mehran’s philosophy: “Respect all. Treat your teammates the right way, listen to them, and value their role and their input.” (Click to tweet)

I came to this country from Iran as a teenager and many of my views have been colored by that immigrant experience and perspective. I have tremendous respect, for example, for the founding fathers of this country. They were leaders with a powerful yet simple vision. There are lessons for us all in how they crafted the Constitution of this brand new country – keeping the document simple and yet able to stand the test of time.

As CEO I have worked hard to keep the vision, mission and values of National Life Group as simple as possible. Our value statement is made up of six words: Do Good. Be Good. Make Good. Everyone in our company knows our value statement and lives by it. The beauty of Do Good, Be Good, Make Good, is that it talks about our intentions, our actions and our outcomes. All in six words.

My most important mentors have been my dad and my mom. I learned servant leadership from my dad. His philosophy was to respect all, no matter who they are, what town they come from, what is their spirituality. You respect all. That has been a guiding principle in my life.  My mother and my father had such an authentic respect and love for those they worked with and those within their community.

That guiding principle – respect all – has led me to understand how important culture is to an organization. Culture is what gives spirit and personality to an organization. And to be truly successful your organization must have a mission or a purpose. Mission-driven companies show up differently and they have a higher calling. That higher calling will guide them to make the right decisions, to be sustainable, responsible and will put the emphasis on doing the right thing.

 

What is The Limits On Your Team’s Potential

There’s no one “right” way to lead a business. Today’s leaders have a lot of wisdom to impart about managing the modern workforce, because each one approaches leadership in his or her own unique way. Every week, Business News Daily will share a leadership lesson from a successful business owner or executive.

  • The leader: Robert C. Johnson, co-founder and CEO of TeamSupport
  • Time in current position: 8 years
  • Robert’s philosophy: “Hire exceptional people, then get out of their way.” (Click to tweet)

I became a CEO at age 25, so I didn’t have much direct early experience with mentors on the job, but I did have an excellent example in my dad, who was a businessman and a great role model. I was able to absorb many valuable lessons just being around him. My own experience has been to learn from trial and error as an entrepreneur, venture capitalist, teacher and mentor to the next generation of entrepreneurs.

That experience has given me insight into how effective leaders operate, especially in my teaching and venture capital roles. Effective leaders serve as shepherds who show their people the way by communicating a vision, but they don’t get bogged down in the tactical aspects, leaving that to their trusted team members.

I’m also a licensed pilot, and I’ve found that managing a company is similar to flying a plane. If you’re flying a small aircraft like a Piper Cub, you’re in complete control of a simple plane with no automated systems, so one person can easily handle it. But flying larger, more complex aircraft requires teamwork. In a business jet, the pilot manages but doesn’t directly control many complex, automated systems. Something similar is at work as companies grow: On commercial aircraft, the CEO/pilot has to trust the crew to manage the systems and develop leaders who can take over, much as a pilot mentors a co-pilot.

I’ve learned that CEOs who micromanage everything unavoidably limit their company’s potential because it’s just not possible for one person to do everything. Conversely, those who bring great people on board and give them the autonomy to do their jobs expand their company’s total capabilities and growth potential.

 

Let’sMake It Harder To Lead Your Business

Work remotely? You might be making it harder for yourself to lead.

A study in The Leadership Quarterly journal discovered that problems such as power struggles, confusion and communication issues, emerge when those in charge aren’t physically located with the majority of their teams.

“People who are working remotely on a team can be at a disadvantage when it comes to being seen as a leader,” Cody Reeves, one of the study’s authors and an assistant professor at Brigham Young University in Utah, said in a statement. “We found that people are biased toward the people they are physically located with.”

For the study, researchers divided college students into 84 four-person teams that were randomly assigned to one of three team configurations: all team members physically located with each other, all working remotely, or  split with some located together and others working remotely.

The teams were then asked to complete a decision-making activity, then answer a survey about the experience and rate their team members. [See Related Story: The Best Kinds of Teams for Remote Work]

The study’s authors found that a clear leader is more likely to emerge when teams are either all located together or all working remotely.

“It’s when you start mixing and matching — some on-site, some virtual — that’s when the real confusion comes into play,” Reeves said.

The study’s authors discovered that when a majority of team members are located together, it severely hampers the ability for a remote worker within that group to be seen as a leader.

But as a team becomes more dispersed — in effect, ‘leveling the playing field’ among team members — the advantage for co-located individuals is greatly reduced,” the study’s authors wrote. “It is possible that having some team members co-located and others not is an underlying factor in the recent publicized struggles and associated reductions in use of virtual teams within some prominent organizations (e.g., Yahoo).”

The study’s authors said they were surprised that remote workers had an easier time emerging as leaders when everyone in the group was also working outside the office. The researchers said that one possible explanation for this finding relates to the “level playing field” notion.

“In these highly dispersed team configurations, the lack of mutual knowledge of other team members’ individual work contexts is perhaps less important in the short term, while the opportunity for a larger proportion of team members to share in leadership responsibilities seems to increase,” the study’s authors wrote.

Based on the research, the study’s authors said they believe that employers who want effective leaders in charge of telecommuting employees should make sure the leader is physically located with at least the majority of the group, or that everyone is working remotely.

Reeves said he thinks the study’s results should also make companies think through their plans for offering telecommuting before jumping right into it.

“They were so concerned about whether or not they could do it, they never stopped to think if they should,” Reeves said on the approach many employers have taken over the past decade as telecommuting has grown in popularity. “Fortunately, many companies now appear to be taking a more deliberate approach when deciding whether and when telecommuting makes sense for their operation.”

The study’s lead author was Steven Charlier, an assistant professor at Georgia Southern University. It was also co-authored by Greg Stewart, a professor at the University of Iowa, and Lindsey Greco, an assistant professor at Oklahoma State University.