Ask a room of 100 successful executives what the most important business question is, and you will get close to 100 different answers. However, you will find that you can boil those responses down to just four one-word questions. "Why?", "What?", "How?", and "Who?" These questions seem relatively straightforward until you recognize that you have a bias toward one or two of these questions.
Your culture isn't the words on your walls, t-shirts, and website. It is those things that you do as a company that works and is therefore promoted, encouraged, repeated, and honored. Let me pick on integrity to illustrate my point as many, many businesses will include integrity in their core values.
A common but wholly bewildering problem founders face is apathy among their employees. As a successful founder, I'd be willing to bet you are wired to drive forward. You probably don't have an off button (at least while you're awake). Employees can be a whole different story.
When I start working with a founder and their team, one of the first issues we have to address is a big one: How they approach growth. Typically, up until this point, they have grown by selling as much as they can and then scrambling to keep up. But this strategy is about to expire.
He said to me, “I wish I spent more time out of my comfort zone.” He went on to describe how the most uncomfortable times in his life were the ones that not only refined him into the man he is today but also created the vast majority of the success he’s had at work and with his family and friends.
As the year winds down, you are likely spending more and more time thinking about and working on next year’s projects. As you’re planning, I’d recommend you consider the following three actions. I believe they are critical for the long-term health and success of your business.
We all have to deal with the gap between our expectations and our realities. It doesn't matter what your position, tenure, education, or skillset is. I know I am routinely let down by my own expectations. Maybe you can relate. I believe this gap affects us all.
You did it! By everyone else's standards, you've built a thriving, successful business. You've succeeded where 95% who've tried have failed. You've turned your idea into a thriving enterprise. But there's a problem. And whether or not you have words for it, you are feeling it.
The Founder's Evolution culminates in Stage 7: The Visionary Founder. At this stage, the Visionary Founder's legacy is truly established. But at the end of the day, it's not about how skilled you are, how amazing your organization is, or how much you are worth. Instead, it's about something far more meaningful, something far more powerful.
Most Founders never make it to Stage 6 of their Founder's Evolution, and they never experience the joy and freedom of becoming a True Owner. They also never discover the most valuable asset a True Owner has because it certainly isn't cash (even though they have a whole lot of it).
In stage 5 of your evolution as a founder, you finally take on a title you've been using incorrectly for a long time: Chief Executive. This stage is tremendously rewarding as you lead through others and build an organization whose success will outlast you. However, some soul-searching and a few essential strategies are needed to get there.
Stage 4 of the Founder's Evolution is the single greatest shift in the entire journey. Your entire history as a founder and a leader up to this point has taught you the skill of winning the game on the field. Unfortunately, very little of that matters in Stage 4. In fact, the better you are at the earlier stages, the harder it will be for you to embrace this next phase in your journey.