Founder of Keir Weimer Multimedia, real estate & lifestyle entrepreneur, No. 1 bestselling author, keynote speaker & high-performance coach.
Most entrepreneurs don’t really have a proven playbook or leadership blueprint when they start. If we’re lucky, we have a mentor or someone we bounce ideas off of and take an example from. But the reality is, a business and organizational plan are just that: a plan. These plans are not a proven blueprint and model that we can lead and manage from when starting out.
As any small-business owner and entrepreneur knows, the first months (and often years) of starting any new venture are very challenging and filled with failures, setbacks and mistakes. You might have heard of the “three P’s,” which refers to people, products and processes. We are often told in business school, “Focus on those three things and everything else will fall into place.” But the problem is, we often focus predominantly on one or two of these at most at the expense of the others. This creates suboptimal outcomes and hurts the organization’s performance and growth.
This is why if I had to give one piece of advice for someone starting a new venture or business, it would be this: Above all else, focus on developing, supporting and leading your people by example and through inspired leadership.
I’ve started several different companies in the real estate, lifestyle and personal development spaces. I’ve made a couple of mistakes early on in building these respective organizations, and I’m now working to make sure I don’t make those mistakes again. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned so far has been that while it’s important to serve the needs of your customers and develop a successful product or service, you can’t lose sight of the thing that holds it all together: your colleagues and team members. These are the people who keep everything from unraveling.
I would recommend the following three strategies for making sure that you always prioritize your people, which, in my experience, can lead to higher team morale, improved performance and increased loyalty:
Listen first, then lead.
Oftentimes we like to simply embrace the top-down leadership model, but it’s important to listen to the needs, challenges and aspirations of your team members and employees. You need to understand them and where they’re coming from, their uniqueness and diversity of experiences, perspectives and backgrounds that they bring to the team. When you do this, you create better rapport and trust, improve your management relationship with them and can form more effective and mutually beneficial working relationships.
Always lead by example.
I’m reminded of the saying, “Always do the right thing, even when no one is looking.” I have tried to live and lead by this adage. From my perspective, doing the right thing — even if you won’t be recognized for — is critical as a leader. It can help not only ensure your own actions are positive, but also that you are not asking other people to do things you would not do or have not done yourself.
When we get into the trenches and focus on the details and the jobs of others, we show a willingness to collaborate and work together, and that breaks down that hierarchical barrier that can often prevent more open and transparent communication between managers and employees.
Support your people by developing and challenging their skills.
It’s critical to always be developing and improving the skills of your team members and employees. This can be done by offering to continue education, developing new skill training programs and finding new responsibilities and ways in which you can stretch and challenge them. I’ve found this can help keep your team stimulated and activated.
Of all the leadership advice I’ve received and given, I firmly believe that this is the most valuable: When you put your people first, everything else grows and improves in a lasting and profound way.