Leadership requires decisiveness. If the employees feel reluctance on the part of the owner to take action, they lose respect for him as a leader. The company’s direction must be clearly defined, the systems and procedures clearly communicated, and company policies must be firmly and fairly enforced. “Mistakes can usually be corrected later; the time lost in not making a decision can never be retrieved” advised Dirk Dieters, Executive Director of The Fremont Group. “A leader, then, is a person who is orientated toward results more than power or social relations….the results-orientated leader does not dictate the methods for achieving the results and, moreover, does not need to claim the victories as his own.” Complacency is your enemy; action is your friend. Every good organization has someone who stirs the pot—someone who simply does not accept the status quo much less unacceptable results. Employees resent change and resist but the pot stirrer understands that employees actually appreciate change more than then the option of a business failure and the owner understands that if the company fails, he loses everything but employees go across the street and get a new job probably with a raise.

Ron Battles, Director of the Small Business Development Center of Everett, Washington was asked to name the biggest mistake in small business. He stated, “Being slow to adapt to business conditions even though you think you’re fast…. I had to do something but if I had done it a year earlier, I would have been a lot further along. As a business owner, if there’s a decision to be made you have to make it quickly. If you don’t make it you lose the timing of that decision.

Employing people also creates a stewardship. You owe it to your employees to provide them with a secure company, opportunities for growth, and respect. Many owners misinterpret this stewardship and do not make the hard decisions. What they often do is cause the entire company to suffer in an attempt not to “hurt” one of them. The owner’s job is to deliver to the shareholders a pre-determined profit, maintain the quality and integrity of the company, and to grow. The owner must do his job as well as he expects others to do theirs.

Your success is limited to the excuses that you are willing to accept. When an employee comes to you with his excuse for not meeting the predetermined level of performance your leadership immediately comes into play. You must listen to what they say and then determine if you have been given an excuse or a reason for nonperformance. The difference between an excuse and a reason is—an excuse isn’t true! The nice part of being the owner is that you get to decide what the truth is. There are occasions when there can be a reason—a legitimate, true reason why performance could not be accomplished. That is why you have to listen to the employee. When a true reason is put forth you must then modify your plan. The performance that you had planned cannot be met. However it is far more common that your employee (or yourself) will come to you with an excuse instead of a reason. If you accept their excuse you have limited your success. More likely you should inform them that you do not accept their excuse and that you still expect the pre-determined performance. Employees are like children and they will push. If you give in you have turned the company over to them.