Want your business to:

  1. Be successful?
  2. Provide a service to your customers?
  3. Reward you through attainment of great accomplishments?
  4. Support your employees?
  5. Make you rich?

If so, you should read this first:

  1. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures, over 50% of all businesses started, will fail within six years!
  2. In ten years, the figure is over 64%.
  3. These failure rates represent a significant amount of time and financial resources lost, year after year.

Citations abound with lists of specific symptoms of business failures such as: insufficient cash flow, poor demand for products, or conflicts between team members.  These lists provide insight, important details, and good information, but often miss the root cause: a failure in leadership.

If you subscribe to the Doctrine of Accountability, then you understand the buck must stop somewhere.  My contention is: businesses fail because leadership missed one, or more, required pieces of the puzzle needed to build and operate a successful enterprise.

If you wish to start a successful business, or make your existing company better, you must understand the role leadership plays.  You must become familiar with leadership related actions, characteristics, and concepts.  You must put leadership practices into place for your company which make sense and will yield a sustainable, successful future for you and your employees.

People have dedicated their entire careers to learning about leadership.  There are many extremely valuable books on the market covering leadership concepts, ranging from historic reviews of successful companies, to works covering Presidents of the United States.  However, if you are in the process of trying to start a successful business, right now, you need critical leadership information in a short, sweet, and to-the-point version and you needed it yesterday.

In developing this article for Leading Maryland, my goal was to present an overview, covering key roles a leader should play and what they must do to be successful from a big picture standpoint.  This will provide you with an introduction to some of the: what, why, when, where, and how of successful leadership.  In future articles, we will explore more nuts and bolts.  While the context of this article is geared primarily toward smaller businesses, much of the research and material it has been drawn from was based upon studies involving larger organizations.  These general leadership concepts apply across all sizes of businesses as well as to non-profits and governmental agencies.

There are eight critical ROLES a leader must play:

As the entrepreneur of your company, you must have a commodity (idea, product, or service) consumers need, want, or cannot live without.

As the leader, you must define the mission for your organization, i.e., the future (dream) you are seeking to accomplish.  The mission should be visionary, inspiring, lofty, and consequential.  It needs to be clear, concise, and to-the-point.  It should set the stage for your company and drive it toward a successful and sustainable future.  The mission statement must become the core concept which binds your organization together as one.  The mission should be used as a key to every company decision.  It should be:

  1. Placed on your desk where you will see it every day.
  2. In big, bold letters on the wall at the front of your conference room or meeting place for your employees to see.
  3. Above the front desk in your reception area for visitors to see.
  4. At the top of your website landing page and on your mission statement page as well.

Your mission statement should be in the forefront of the minds of every employee who works for you.  Your mission statement should be a large part of how your company is perceived, when viewed by your customers.

As the visionary, you must have commitment, drive, willingness, character, and resolve to make your dream come true.

As the voice of your company’s dream, you must articulate and personify every day, the organization’s mission, plus related goals, objectives, and organizational fixed core values, as you march forward.  You must buy into them; your board members, officers, and managers must buy into them; and your employees should understand and agree why it is in their best interest to buy into them as well.

As head of sales and marketing for you company, you must be directly involved in selling your commodity.  No one else has the same passion or engagement with the product, plus you are ultimately accountable for the success of your company.  Sales are not only your responsibility, but at the very heart of your business’s success or failure.

As the leader, you must make decisions based upon information, facts, goals, objectives, and in furtherance of your organization’s mission.

You must be willing and able to adapt to changes; help others adapt – without losing sight of the organization’s mission; and learn how to capitalize on opportunities presented.

You must stay in tune with what is happening externally and how it may change the big picture.

As a leader, there are eight areas of actions, concepts, and characteristics YOU must embrace:

You must know and understand: who you are, where you are going, how to get there, and how you relate to others.  (You must be able to conduct an honest self-evaluation.)

You must be willing to listen and be open to other points of view.

You must be willing and able to adjust your personality, approach, or style, to ensure success, especially, if by chance, you have a caustic, or fatal, flaw in your current personality characteristics.  (It is your choice.  If you want to build a successful and sustainable business, sometimes things must change.  You are the only one who has this capacity.)

You must be honest, articulate, genuine, inspiring, and accountable for the success of your mission.

You must understand leadership is a responsibility.  (As a sole owner, it may also be a right – which you should exercise appropriately.)

You must be able to communicate, persuade, encourage, motivate, and set the bar, both in words and actions.

You must stay focused on outcomes, be results oriented, and able to turn set-backs into rallying points.

You must surround yourself with great people who augment your values, strengths, and weaknesses, rather than only mirror them.

Remember: as the leader of your company, if you are accountable for your actions, your chances for success in the business world will be significantly higher.

Michael Roney has a Master’s of Science degree from the University of Montana and over thirty-three years of experience in a successful professional career. Nineteen of those years were spent in supervisory and managerial roles. He has been dedicated to studying the role of leadership and management in organizations for over 25 years, in relationship to how work is accomplished and how organizations adapt to change. The single greatest compliment he was given during his career was from an employee who stated he had a “Ph.D. in common sense”. He has worked since the fall of 2013, part-time, as a freelance business writer, providing services to clients from coast to coast. He has completed business related documents covering several areas including: safety management, human resources, driver’s education, agreements, contracts, product descriptions, insurance claim related documents, non-disclosure agreements, business plans, home and business security, resources management, non-profits, child protection, and education.