A leader is able to get people to willingly achieve more than they would have on their own. Motivational skills, inspiration, and a belief in the follower that you care are some of the common attributes. You can motivate and inspire through threat and intimidation, however this is does not create lasting results. The two traits that I have found in common that will be discussed here are traits that are commonly found in successful small business owners—intensity and “pot stirring.”
Intensity is a razor-sharp focus upon results. All owners will claim that they have this trait however for intensity to be a positive attribute it must be accompanied by other factors. Intensity alone will not produce success. There must be a “razor-sharp focus upon results.” Therefore the first requirement is that clearly identified results be identified and in virtually all cases this means numbers. In its’ simplest form a business is merely an accumulation of numbers. Sales revenue, margins, productivity, overhead, etc. all provide numbers and the effective owner knows the numbers, knows what produces the numbers, and constantly monitors those numbers. There should be no surprises on the monthly profit and loss statement because daily, weekly (or in some cases hourly) monitoring of key profit indicators have alerted the owner to potential issues and the owner has dealt with it immediately. In this regard, the greatest threat to the owner is procrastination. Intensity means that there is no procrastination. Things are not put off. Issues are immediately discovered and addressed. A culture must be created within the organization that does not punish persons for bringing the owner bad news, rather it must be rewarded. In essence, know your desired results, constantly monitor the key profit indicators that produce those results, and address any abnormalities swiftly and with a clear demonstration of their priority to the organization. This is the intensity that produces results.
Pot stirring addresses the second threat to success—complacency. No one really wants to change. A comfort level is achieved in repetitive processes regardless of whether or not they are successful. The old adage of “poor practices repeated become company policy” is true. A leadership trait of successful small business owners is stirring the pot. Changing positions, responsibilities, territories—whatever—and eliminating complacency produces long-term results. The organization must learn that change is a part of the culture. Change needs to take place the moment any results begin to slip—not just after failure. The obvious downside is changing things that are working and therefore again the owner must know his key profit indicators and closely monitor them.
Much of the success of these traits hinges upon effective managerial accounting which will be addressed in future posts.