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BASICS, Part III

By Chuck Violand

September 29, 2014

Continuing with the subject of keeping things simple, especially when it involves leading our companies, here are four more suggestions you might find helpful.

Become fluent in saying “thank you.” The simplest sentences can have the most profound effects on our relationships with people. Yet saying thank you seems to be the most underused phrase in business.
As business owners we sometimes feel that saying thank you tells the recipient we think we owe them something. And usually we do—a simple thank you.

Say thank you when someone performs well or makes a contribution to the growth of your company. Say thank you when someone compliments you. And even say thank you when someone criticizes you or offers unsolicited advice. Avoid the urge to defend yourself. Instead, thank them for bringing their observation to your attention.

It’s NOT all about you. And it’s not all about your company either. Starting a business is an exhilarating time in an entrepreneur’s life. The entire universe seems to revolve around the business. We need to be aware of just how overshadowing this can be to those around us.

As our businesses grow and succeed, it’s easy to let the same thing happen with our egos. Get over it. No matter how good you are, you probably didn’t have as much influence over the success of your company as you’d like to believe. Chances are the hard work of your employees and support from your loved ones had as much to do with the success of your business as your hard work and dedication.

As our companies mature, they move through stages, from a “me” focus, to a “we” focus, and, in the best situations, wind up being “them” focused. Acknowledging your team early on and not allowing your ego to get in the way will help your company move through these stages more smoothly.

It IS all about you. I just got done saying it’s not all about you, but in many ways owning a business really is about you. In the early stages, your company is a surprisingly close reflection of your values and beliefs. As your business increases, your company—both as a whole and each individual employee—will rely on you to take the lead toward growth and development.

Your company will grow in lockstep with your own eagerness to grow, both personally and professionally, and with your willingness to embrace change. If you don’t work to improve yourself, your company will become stagnant.

Finish strong. One of the hallmarks of entrepreneurial behavior is that we’re quick to start things but slow to finish them. We get bored, distracted, or just worn down by all the details needed to bring initiatives to completion. You’ll be much more effective as a leader if you start half as many projects and see them through to strong finishes than if you start twice as many projects and let them drift off into insignificance.

Olympic races are won with a strong kick at the end. Football games are won with last second Hail Mary catches. Great symphonies finish with crescendos. The same is true in business. The finish, whether strong or weak, is what people often remember. Make it your goal to finish strong!