One of the best things a leader can do is listen to the advice of others who have been there before. No matter what industry or type of business you run, learning from the experiences of successful leaders can help you not only avoid critical mistakes, but also make informed decisions to help your business grow. Fourteen founders, CEOs and business authors shared the most valuable leadership advice they’ve ever received.
• Lean out into the future. Pretend you go in a time machine, three years out. Write down in three to four pages exactly what your company looks like. Describe every aspect of your company at that time. That’s your “painted picture.” Then hand that vivid description to your team. Now that they can see what you can see, they can figure out how to make it happen.
– Cameron Herold, founder of BackPocket COO and author of “Double Double” (Greenleaf Book Group, 2011)
• The first thing you think of in the morning and the last thing you think of at night is either the cause of your career happiness or the cause of your career pain. If it’s pain, focus on changing that. – Anthony Lolli, founder and CEO of Rapid Realty
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• Learn to give up trying to control everything. Being a great leader is about influence and listening to those around you. These are attributes rarely taught in school or training, but most often the ones that define how successful of a leader you are.
– Jose Li, founder and CEO of 71lbs
• Surround yourself with “10s.” Find experts in the areas that aren’t your strongest, and don’t feel threatened by them.
– Beth Hurley, CEO of 360 Cookware
• Place a greater emphasis on improving strengths in an employee or your core competency. The impact will be much greater than fixating on weaknesses.
– Ruben Soto, CEO and president of Hourglass Angel
• The best thing you can do is always follow your gut. The clients and potential partnerships that make you weary from the get-go are the ones that will cause you the most problems in the long run. Only work with people you respect and clients you are passionate about. Usually your first instinct is the right one.
– Lais Pontes, president and principal of The Pontes Group
• Solving the big problems means helping others accomplish more. This advice helped to shape my on-demand car service app, Whisk. We saw so many things that needed to be fixed in ground transportation and decided we could do more by helping the existing industry transform, rather than just disrupting it with a new technology.
– Michael Ibrahim, CEO of Whisk
• Remain focused on the customer, and the rest of business will fall in line. This customer-centric focus is the truest compass for navigating the road to scale up for business success, and maintains a continual focus on the customer despite market distractions. It is the real secret to continual growth and success.
– Phil Rooke, CEO of Spreadshirt
• Be on time. Be brief. Be gone. In business, you must complete tasks in a timely manner. Do not linger on events that can be handled by others on your team more effectively. Once that task is complete, be ready to pivot to the next task.
– Charley Polachi, managing partner of Polachi Access Executive Search
• The best leadership advice came to me from George Naddaff, founder of Boston Market. In the 1990s, he told me, “A brave man does it with a sword, a coward with a kiss.” He was referring to the act of firing and how it should be done swiftly and without sugar coating or open debate.
– Steven Krane, CEO of 800Razors
• My father led and taught by example, and the greatest lesson he ever communicated to me is to be warm and connected with the people you meet. As a little girl sweeping hair from the floor in his salons, I watched so many people drawn toward his sincere warmth. Whether he was listening to a client describe the hairdo she wanted or a vendor pitching a new line of products, he was always attentive. He really cared, not just about what they were saying, but about them as a person.
– Gina Rivera, co-founder of Phenix Salon Suites
• Hire or engage with people who are smarter and more capable in their respective areas than you are. After setting some rules and guidelines, just let them do it. It’s a skill to be able to work with people who are completely different from you, but it pays off when they are able to do what they love and you are [able] to focus on your strengths.
– Jack Bosch, author of “Forever Cash” (Morgan James Publishing, 2013)
• People will never value you, your talent or your time if you don’t first and foremost respect and value yourself. Similarly, don’t let people who don’t respect you rule your behavior.
– Tom Anderson, author of “Value of Debt” (Wiley, 2013)
• Sometimes you have to say “no” to say “yes.” My executive coach, Helen Attridge, taught me to ask myself a two-part question before I agree to take on any project. If I answer “yes,” what do I have to say “no” to? And, if I answer “no,” what can I say “yes” to? The purpose was to help me become better at setting boundaries so I could achieve the greatest impact for my business and my life. The question puts me in an empowered position and keeps me doing more of what I want to and less of what I don’t.
– Renee Israel, founder of Doc Popcorn
Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.