1. Be generous You can’t afford not to be generous. What goes around, comes around and if you take good care of your employees and clients, they will take good care of you when you need it most.
2. Hire whole people that you like You are going to be spending a lot of time together, so it’s good for you to like the people you choose to work with. Hire them because they are good at what they do but let that be more than just that one skill they are meant to contribute. Someone you see as ‘whole’ probably has many talents to contribute outside their job description, many interests that may not have anything to do with work, and a personality, sense of humor or world-view that can accommodate change and the vicissitudes of business. That person is likely not just intellectually intelligent but also emotionally intelligent, and is going to serve the company, it’s clients and stakeholders way better than someone that may have a great resume but is functionally uni-dimensional.
3. Listen up In order to be successful, understanding your clients, the market, your investors, your board, etc. etc., is going to be more than half the battle. For that, you’ll have to continually cultivate insight into human motivations, fears, and ambitions. That starts with understanding yourself and the people you work with. Find ways to know more about each other. Strengthen the listening muscle. The details of a work day are rarely what drive or hinder people- there are bigger, deeper things in play and if we can work to understand those things about ourselves and each other, we’ll get much further in whatever we trying to do.
4. Define your roles and don’t ask people to do more than they are willing to do Everyone does better knowing where they stand and what’s expected of them. It’s not difficult to have a lot asked of you, if you expect a lot to be asked of you. The role of the janitor is as important as the role of the CEO- the company cannot run properly without either one of them. In order for a company to be extraordinary, every role has to be performed with great attention and integrity. Every role can be performed in such a way as to be worthy of respect. Everyone needs to be clear, comfortable, and capable in their roles.
5. Never forget the big picture Sometimes the small stuff starts to feel big and can bog you down. Little splinters feel like big snags. A client wants to argue about a piddly invoice item, a co-worker snaps at you, a deadline is missed- these things have nothing to do with the big picture. They do not actually interfere with what you are trying to do, so don’t let them. Move on, quickly.
6. Embrace the competition Being open with competitors is valuable for everyone. There's a real strategic advantage to embracing our competitors. It makes our jobs more interesting, hones the quality of our work and builds a more impactful and innovative economic landscape. There will always be places where they are weak where you are strong and vice versa- openly acknowledging this can make those differences work for you.
7. Meetings do not need to look like meetings Meetings do not need to happen inside around a table. And meetings do not need to take a long time. Instead of shutting yourself in a stuffy room with coworkers or clients, take the conversation outside. Go for a walk- the best meetings happen when there is a change of scenery, fresh air and our bodies are moving. Sometimes it actually helps communication not to be face-to-face, but walking side by side, going somewhere. And moving lengthens attention span but even if people are interested in the meeting, attention spans still hover around 7-10 minutes. So keep meetings short and to-the-point.
8. Make sanity #1 Your company will have a culture whether or not you try to craft one. Prioritize sanity as your defining cultural attribute. Sane employees are profitable employees and pleasant co-workers. A culture of sanity accommodates people's real lives, promotes physical and mental health, keeps expectations clear, faces challenges head on, let’s people feel engaged, respected and alive. A sane place to work can look a lot of different ways but it likely combines challenge with relaxation, and irreverently cherishes humor as a core value.
9. Organizational development work is not optional Hiring a consultant or even just putting aside time for organizational development can seem expensive and auxiliary, but it will end up saving you time and money and is essential. Allowing for personal & systemic investigation and processing will help you retain employees, build a healthy and productive culture, optimize the bottom line, build capacity and increase the quality of your company’s work. Consistent attention to dialogue, listening, emotional intelligence, self-mastery / interpersonal-mastery, creativity, ability to see big picture & think systemically will lead to resiliency, innovation, adaptability, accountability and personal leadership. And who wouldn’t want all that!
10. Call on your community You have questions, they have answers. The businesses in your community may not look like yours but chances are that there are people in your community have plenty of nuggets of wisdom to share with you. Your community might be your block, your town, your industry or online around the world. Don’t be shy to ask for help or advice.