Leaders who build the best companies utilize ten foundational leadership cornerstone concepts. These cornerstones help leaders establish the groundwork needed for their company’s future achievements. They provide a stable basis for the leader’s approach, direction setting, communications, and decision making. They help set the standards for leadership behaviors, self-awareness, and accountability. Starting from these foundational cornerstones allows top-level leaders to acquire a competitive edge and therefore accomplish first-class results in moving their companies to the pinnacle of their business niche.
The ten business leadership cornerstones are:
- Exhibiting leadership attributes, confidence, and commitment.
Leaders must know how to:
- Act like a leader.
- Communicate like a leader.
- Connect with people as a leader.
- Skillfully articulate company mission, goals, objectives, and milestones.
- Set the stage for success.
- Acclaim the company’s accomplishments and contributions to society.
A leader’s exhibited behavior needs to inspire employees to not only follow the leader but also enthusiastically contribute to the company at the highest levels. It is not just a matter of a leader’s ability to influence people. Proficient leaders find ways to convince employees to change their mindset, their intrinsic motivational factors, and their direction in life to help make the company more competitive. Leaders inspire, motivate, and bring out the best in their employees in developing a winning “can-do” attitude.
- Exhibit a genuine and passionate belief in the mission.
- Portray confidence, steadfast commitment, and persistence in pursuing the mission.
- Convince followers to willingly join in the journey.
- Recognize contributions to the company’s achievements.
- Utilize the proper focus, mindset, and driving factor.
- Adjust, adapt, and revise company direction when change is needed.
- Inspire employees to find and actively exploit a competitive edge for the company within their marketplace.
- Take actions to develop brand recognition, convince consumers the company’s products are superior to their competitors, and earn and retain customer brand loyalty.
High energy leaders, who are exciting, inspirational, articulate, and charismatic will excel at these tasks. They will also exhibit confidence in the face of uncertainty and turn setbacks into rallying points.
- Harboring an honest self-awareness.
Potential blue-chip leaders, by listening to feedback and through honest self-evaluation, must correctly assess themselves, their direction, what they wish to accomplish, how, and why. Just as critical, leaders must comprehend how they interrelate to others who will be essential in making the company’s journey successful. They must understand and appreciate how effectively they communicate, how their personality is viewed by others, and how capable they are at inspiring people by connecting with their internal feelings.
Based upon these types of parameters, leaders must determine what personal adjustments they need to make in their approach to ensure success. Leaders must be honest with themselves in understanding their strengths and in taking actions to shore up their weaknesses. They need to willingly adjust their personality, behaviors, and demeanor as well as improve the delivery of their messages to guaranty a bright future for the company. It is essential leaders surround themselves with great people who compliment the leader’s skills and abilities. These trusted direct reports need to be chosen specifically for, and allowed to play a crucial role in, the process of backfilling a leader’s known shortcomings.
A self-serving leader who does not understand who they are; cannot adjust their behavior and personality; or will not control an ego, their temper, or bad habits is predisposed to producing subpar results.
- Understanding the importance of effective, timely, and inspirational communications.
A leader’s messages must:
- Pass their passion, energy, and conviction on to their followers.
- Inspire employees to step up to the plate, regardless of whether it pertains to the resolution of a current crisis or the long-term implementation of their business plan.
- Be sincere, honest, authentic, original, and convincing.
- Articulate the details of each message and effectively convey the importance of actions needed.
- Connect to their followers in a deeply personal manner which recharges their followers’ batteries, motivates employees to take actions, and convinces those employees to find new resolve in moving forward and accomplishing great things.
Leaders must understand their business environment and set priorities on which issues to take on and when. Through their messages, leaders need to keep their employees informed and current on key matters, potential concerns, or upcoming changes. Leaders must articulate the how, when, and most importantly the why of required adjustments in direction. Leaders have the opportunity with timely communications to reduce rumors, provide details, define objectives, and rally the troops in dealing head-on with potential setbacks or roadblocks.
An eminent leader’s messages will resonate with employees across all divisions of a company. Their messages will be properly defined, well-thought out, absent of spin and will provide inspiration and motivation to those employees.
Touting a unified mission focused on delivering a service to customers.
- Constantly strive to keep everyone on the same page, working on the same team, and moving in the same direction to provide products to consumers at the highest possible levels of satisfaction.
- Believe in the mission 110% and pass this attitude on to their employees.
- Be the cheerleaders, through crystal-clear messages, as to what is important in terms of the mission, vision, direction, goals, objectives, milestones, and expected outcomes in the context of customer service and product value.
- Be the catalyst behind building company norms of service, teamwork, sustainability, adaptability, and results.
- Be a constant advocate for gaining and retaining customer loyalty through the production of superior products and services.
- Implement and monitor a framework for proactive company decisions focused on the attainment of the company mission.
- Be responsible for developing a synergy across the whole organization via a unified company mission, held up as the reason for working across boundaries seamlessly.
Leaders must be visionary in understanding how customer demands may evolve. They need to use their foresight, wisdom, and the encouragement of employee innovation in shaping consumers’ options and choices through new products the company develops and test markets.
- Fostering employee growth, development, self-confidence, and commitment.
Five-star leaders evaluate constructively the accomplishments, contributions, habits, effectiveness, abilities, and commitment to the mission of their employees. From these evaluations, leaders gain the insight they require to mentor, encourage, coach, inspire, and improve work processes, workgroup relationships, and results.
- Instill self-confidence, the ability to adapt, and a winning approach into their workforce.
- Release employee creativity, encourage innovation, and challenge employees to think outside the box to become the leading-edge innovators within their fields.
- Provide opportunities for employees to increase their skills and knowledge base through training.
- Allow employees to learn management and leadership skills, be involved in decision making, and improve their problem-solving capabilities.
- Identify potential or underutilized skills in employees and be capable of mentoring and encouraging those employees to grow in their current role as well as into new roles.
- Draw out the best in employees, rally those employees to meet adversity head-on, and encourage employees to reach for the highest levels of achievement.
- Appreciate employee commitment, initiative, teamwork, and results.
Skillful leaders will provide an appropriate amount of limited insight (coaching) to help employees find solutions to their problems. This allows employees to believe in their minds they found the answers by themselves and are thus motivated to buy into the solutions 100%.
Leaders must delegate, provide extrinsic motivation, and develop a teamwork atmosphere.
- Setting the bar high by example.
Leaders must exhibit personal core values such as a strong work ethic, honesty, teamwork, initiative, sound decision making, and the ability to produce results if they expect employees to mirror these kinds of positive behaviors. Leaders must be optimistic, visionary, and yet realistic in their projections. Leaders must display commitment, passion, energy, and enthusiasm for the company’s products. They need to set examples in both their actions, as well as their delivery, in “selling” their product, business plan, ideas, concepts, mission, and vision to investors, potential board members, prospective employees, and customers. Actions speak louder than words. Necessity requires leaders appreciate and understand the value and importance of leading by example in all settings and circumstances.
If high-level leaders expect their employees to rise to the occasion when required, they need to hold themselves to an even higher standard.
- Hiring the best people.
Leaders must find and hire people based upon the needed knowledge and skills required to operate their company successfully. However, to take a company to the next level, extraordinary leaders will hire individuals who possess attributes such as: superior attitudes, above average ability to focus, adaptability, proven problem-solving skills, or a willingness to reach for the stars.
Companies will be rewarded when the leader is directly involved in setting the standards and expectations for locating and hiring intrinsically motivated employees with untethered potential to grow, innovate, and expand their horizons.
- Holding themselves accountable.
A failure in leadership plays a key role in the demise of any company. Leaders need to comprehend and embrace their leadership responsibilities and be accountable for actions required to ensure their company’s success. Leaders are responsible for key decision making, adapting to change, producing results, and focusing the company’s efforts on mission attainment. Leaders must hold themselves accountable for monitoring adjustments in their market, changes in consumer demands, and the actions of their competitors. They must provide the direction, rationale, inspiration, and motivation to keep their company heading down the pathway to success. Leaders must be accountable for sales, the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, employee engagement and productivity, production levels, and customer service and satisfaction.
The responsibility to take actions may be delegated but accountability for the results of those actions still falls back onto the shoulders of the leader.
Recognizing the importance of both the role and contribution of employees, as well as suppliers, subcontractors, board members, investors, stockholders, and customers to the company’s success.
Leaders must understand the value behind the how, when, and why of showing appreciation for contributions to the company. Leaders need to signify both their awareness, and the importance, of contributions made by others.
Companies benefit from these contributions. Consumers purchase goods and services. Employees are needed to produce, market, and sell those products. Investors and stockholders provide capital for start-up, operations, expansion, and diversification. Suppliers, subcontractors, and board members all play important roles.
As examples, leaders need to exhibit their appreciation for the contribution of customers by emphasizing a commitment to their satisfaction, through product reliability, quality of service, product value, and innovation. A leader’s recognition for the contribution of employees shows both caring and compassion and provides employees with a sense of self-worth and self-esteem.
Ensuring corporate responsibility related to investors, stockholders, society, customers, employees, environmental concerns, and generally accepted accounting practices.
Leaders should take the moral high ground in setting a core value for their company to prevent the intentional harm of others, or the environment, while in the process of conducting business. They need to ensure their company follows accepted accounting practices and is up-front about any known potential risks with investors, stockholders, employees, and society. Leaders must make sure the company’s actions are moral, legal, and ethical.
Leaders, in their efforts to build and solidify the company’s future, need to focus attention on producing solid balance sheet financial numbers across all due diligence parameters such as: earnings – trends and potential; high operating margins; cash flow per share; favorable asset utilization; and debt and equity capitalization structure. To be successful over the long-haul, it is essential all company decisions strive to improve the future position of the company in their marketplace, facilitate the attainment of the stated mission, and yield a positive workplace atmosphere capable of adapting, innovating, and developing a competitive edge.
Leaders should take great pause before considering any actions which might “improve” one business parameter while significantly diminishing the values or benefits of others. Leaders and CEOs must refuse to work under agreements and conditions which bolster self-serving single-issue concepts such as intentionally manipulated stock prices, stock buy backs, or return on investment. Pursuing these types of single-issue concepts which harm or erode a company’s bottom-line parameters to arbitrarily increase investor dividends and/or their own retirement, bonuses or compensation are totally at odds with building a successful, lasting company.
Conclusions: exhibited leadership attributes must be grounded on business based foundational cornerstone concepts. Leaders must understand who they are. They must effectively articulate both the mission and any priority messages to their followers. They need to hire top-shelf employees, promote employee growth and development, and recognize employee contributions. They must lead by example, be accountable, and inspirational. They must be driven, focused, and adaptable. Leaders need to cultivate a “can-do” culture and build a company framework for effective proactive decision making.
Sensational Leaders who build upon these ten foundational cornerstones will yield stellar results and achievements in leading their companies to the top.