Three Questions that Successful Business Leaders Ask Themselves

Written on March 26, 2019

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1. Have I challenged my company’s vision, mission and purpose lately?

A business’s mission and vision that it develops for itself is a fundamental piece of an organization’s identity. Through these established principles and priorities, companies are able to solidify their brands, strategically chart their direction for the future and distinguish themselves from their competition.

But for too many businesses, after the passage of time, the organization’s vision, mission and purpose become nothing more than slogans printed in marketing pieces or posted on the company’s website. These pieces that informed the business’s identity and direction no longer influence the actions a business is actually taking. While this jargon may still be catchy on paper, and your materials may be pleasing to the eye, it’s always helpful to consider if these statements are still driving your business, your people and your decision making forward. It’s important to take the time and intentionally challenge how your business is relating to and executing its own mission.

Are these elements truly the motivation behind your company’s actions? Are the things that your business is saying about itself easy for others to understand? Have you strayed from the values that you profess? Do you need to adjust your operations to realign them to where you were at the start? Or have your priorities legitimately changed over the passage of time?

Audit your business’s motivation to accomplish its goals and to execute on its values, and identify any disconnects that are impacting your operations. Evaluate what your message says about your company and if it effectively conveys what you mean. Think critically about the trajectory your mission projects and if it is in line with the direction in which your business is headed. Revisit the fundamentals about the identity of your business.

2. Am I transforming star team members into head coaches?

Have you ever heard the popular anecdote that illustrates a conversation between a CEO and CFO about talent?

CFO to CEO: “What happens if we invest in developing our people and they leave?”
CEO to CFO: “What happens if we don’t and they stay?”

High performers often progress through the ranks of an organization, and many of these high-performing employees eventually begin leading the business themselves. While many employees who go on to accept leadership positions within their organizations have great insight and valuable commitment to offer, it cannot be assumed that star performers will be intuitively great at leading or managing teams. If you would equip your team with the knowledge necessary to perform a technical project, wouldn’t you also intentionally equip them to lead your business to success as a manager? Evaluate the development that your future leaders are receiving.

A great business leader takes time to mentor others and works with star performers to ensure they have the skills to successfully transition into a leadership position themselves. It’s important to invest in your team members’ professional development so that they can one day become the head coach. Ideally, this effort creates a perpetual investment in your business in which the leaders of your company are developing future leaders. Those future leaders become current leaders, and they begin investing in the next generation of leaders, and so on. Are you investing in your company’s future by investing in its people?

3. Do I care enough to change?

Most business- or management-related literature will assert that business leaders should be innovative visionaries who can effectively adjust their products, business models and teams to improve their bottom line. It’s true that new ideas, innovation and the boldness to attempt them are key ingredients for an effective leader of an influential company. But, stand back from these claims, examine them closely, and you’ll see an underlying motif—the value of change.

Many will be successful, but no business, team or project will ever be completely perfect. There is always room for improvement, but improvement requires change, and change can often be a hard pill to swallow. Often times, when professionals and leaders create a system, business or project, it’s easy to become attached to the idea and vision of what we have created. Having this ownership over contributions allows leaders to maintain a commitment to an organization and its success, but it often causes leaders to create a blind spot of their own. Do you care so much about the projects or processes you have created that you want to protect them? Or do you care even more—to be willing to change them?

Are you too attached to your vision for a project to accept change for it? Are you resistant to change, even if it could be for the better? Are you constantly seeking out ways to improve your operations, or would you rather keep the status quo than make a change?

The truth about improvement is that it requires change. Regardless of project or circumstance, the ability to step back, evaluate and consider how changes could improve your business is an asset in itself. It’s important to reject complacency and consider how you can improve your ability to implement change successfully.

To learn about the strategic guidance Warren Averett offers to businesses, visit our Corporate Advisory service page here.

This article was originally written and published by Warren Averett on September 16, 2014, and it was most recently revised and updated with new insight and information on March 26, 2019.

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