As a Vistage chair and business leader who supports peers in his North East business community, Andrew Marsh is often asked what are the laws to being a good leader?
Here Andrew, who also owns Marsh Business Transformation and is Non Exec Director and Chair on a number of charitable and SME boards, guides those at the top through principles that make working life better.
“As a business leader, your job is to make decisions. The result of those decisions become what your success is judged on, by yourself and others.
“That’s daunting. It makes even the best decision maker hesitate or doubt themselves. Pushing through a big decision is tough, usually very lonely and isn’t often fun. You may lose sleep, and friends, along the way.
“So how do leaders do this every day, constantly getting up to climb another path of decision making?
“Vistage members have recently been given a guide called Journey To The Summit, The CEO’s 7 Laws of Leadership. In it there’s real pearls of wisdom. For this article I’d like to expand on them, in my own words.
Reject shortcuts to growth
Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. Good leaders check every angle, tick every box and explore every possibility. They commit to a plan and take ownership before making a decision that leads to growth.
The Vistage guide advises asking two questions: what am I missing and where’s the truth in the feedback? I’d also ask ‘If this goes wrong, what’s the worst and best case scenario?’ Often the worst case is still an opportunity that pushes you to that final ‘yes’.
Create space to work on the business
How many times do you hear people say work on the business as well as in the business? It’s a true adage. Decision making needs to be pro-active not just re-active to be successful. Pro-activeness requires thought, planning, time. Often that means taking yourself away from the business. Physically by working somewhere else, away from your usual day-to-day office. Mentally by investing in a peer group, in training or mentoring. Maybe read a book. I can recommend so many that create a clear mind!
Challenge your thinking with fresh perspectives
You can ask trusted others to challenge you, by playing devil’s advocate they help you see a new thought train. Our peer groups are great for this. Everyone sees the same thing slightly differently. You have to open your ears, eyes and heart to this, and then make comparisons to re-evaluate your standing.
One of my favourite quotes from the Vistage guide is “World-class business leaders are high on curiosity and low on ego.”
In other words ask questions. Presume others know better and grill them for knowledge.
There are many ways to graph actions – it doesn’t matter which you use. As long you are applying a principle for yourself to follow, you have applied discipline.
Always cover the four main elements influential to decision making, for example: instinct, experience, facts/data and perspectives of others.
Find a trusted guide
In a previous article, I reminded you that ‘no man is an island’. This is true when making potentially life changing decisions for yourself and other people. Find someone who understands you, respects your job and your company, with the right experience but who also challenges you. You aren’t looking for a friend. You are looking for someone to bring the best you out. That said, they will probably become a friend through the process!
Rise by helping others
By helping others make critical decisions, you train yourself to make your own. You hone skills and by seeing how your input creates a positive impact, you build your confidence.
For these seven steps, being part of a peer group or business mentoring organisation away from work has huge benefits. Whether you join a well-known global organisation or a local one with experienced business leaders, you won’t regret the support and your leadership skills will come on in leaps and bounds!
Andrew offers free initial consultations to the region’s CEO’s, MD’s and other decision makers.