Two Vital Abilities Any Leader Must Have

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As a business owner, you are a leader whether you like it or not. Whether you like it or not you have to guide your group in order to expand your organization. And whether you like it or not, there are some difficult situations that you have to confront and handle -- hopefully in a way that inspires confidence in you from your staff.

I commonly say that in order to be successful you only need to be right 51% of the time. You really don't have to be much more right than that to make it. Fortunately or unfortunately the more correct you are in your actions, decisions, policies, directions and programs the more agreement you get from your group.

Some people, one would say, are natural born leaders. I believe a natural born leader is one who is right more than 51% of the time, but even more importantly is willing to be wrong 49% of the time. He or she is willing to make the difficult decisions organizationally in planning, administration and justice within the group. The group then respects him or her for making the call and is more likely to support the leader in future decisions.

If a business owner has guided his organization to high levels of prosperity over a period of time, when that business owner presents a new plan or goal to the staff they are likely to support it because that leader has demonstrated a majority of correct decisions and actions in the past.

Conversely, if a business owner has not guided his organization to desired levels of success in the past, when that business owner presents a new plan or goal to the staff they are likely to disagree with or not comply with the plan because the leader has demonstrated a majority of incorrect decisions and actions in the past.

Business owners I have met commonly know what they should do but most of the time they lack the courage to make the decision and act. I see this so often - an owner knows exactly what he needs to do to expand his organization or handle a particular staff member, but chooses to do something else; something easier to face, something easier to confront. This choice, in essence, makes him do the wrong thing. A real leader is one who does the right thing for the group even if it doesn't win a popularity contest.

If you formulate a positive plan, if you get agreement on it from your staff, if you are not weak about your orders and if you follow through and get compliance, you will expand.

We find in a less courageous leader an inability to issue an order and probably more importantly the lack of the ability to get compliance to that order. These are two vital abilities that any leader must possess. The ability to make the call and the ability to make sure it gets done.

If you were able to face things in your organization without flinching or avoiding, if you were able to make the tough decisions and knew you were at least 51% correct in those decisions, if you were able to get others to get the work done and enforce compliance to your orders, you would find you would become significantly more successful and you would sleep better at night.

What do I mean by that? Let's say you are looking at trying to solve a problem and you work out the solution. But the solution, however simple, is difficult to face. Perhaps it requires the determination of a staff member. Perhaps it requires changing how you have always done things. Perhaps it has the possibility of upsetting someone. So you choose to do something else. Something less right, or something more wrong. And when it doesn't turn out exactly the way you want it to, you look at this and although you might feel frustrated, you apathetically write it off as experience.

But if you have the ability to face it, if you have the ability to tell that staff member something that you know might initially upset him/her and in the end gain the agreement of the staff member that it is the right thing to do, you find that the stress associated with not facing something, is significantly higher than just facing it.

Have you ever lain awake at night trying to figure out how you were going to handle a particular staff situation?

Perhaps you have someone who is basically causing trouble whenever you are out of the office for a day or two. You find you are always calling in to check on this staff member to see if he or she is causing any difficulties or problems for others in your absence. You think about this person all of the time. Basically you know you should fire this staff member, but you lack the courage to do it. Your group is looking to you to handle it. You lie in bed at night and think it through and what you dream up is something way more difficult to handle than just walking in and telling Joe that he needs to knock it off or he is gone.

You should be a leader ? just implement what you know needs to be done and ensure that it gets done. That should be you. You know what to do. You know how to handle things. Your staff is counting on you. Can you do it without losing sleep? Maybe not at first, but when you do and see how easy it actually is you'll "sleep like a baby"!

Shaun Kirk is President and Co-Founder of Measurable Solutions Inc., a consulting firm engaged in all areas of business management. Measurable Solutions trains entrepreneurs and executives how to be consultants to their own businesses, so they not only can expand their own business but any business. With his partner, he has built the most rapidly expanding company of its kind in the world. Visit his website at

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