Be Careful Who You Are Surrounding Yourself With
Trust is a cornerstone of business. As a leader, you are constantly working on building trust with your employees, your suppliers and your clients. Treating people with respect and owning up to your mistakes are some of the leadership lessons that you need to master.
But as a leader, you need to have a team that surrounds you in order to lead with influence. In my book, “Liberating Your Leadership Potential” I share about the following key of leadership – Surrounding Yourself With People You Can Trust. This key allows you to look at your team members and how they can affect your leadership results.
Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching — C.S. Lewis
Whom Do You Trust When You Have to Make the Big Decisions?
A few years ago, I made the big move and gave up my corporate job with all its bells and whistles.
Starting up my own business seemed like the logical thing to do, but it proved to be one of the hardest. With no defined income, no clients waiting in the wings, and no products to sell, I created a challenge for myself!
During the start-up phase, I came across an opportunity to launch something called ‘Leadercast’. It was a whole day leadership training program, featuring a number of presenters, including Jim Collins (author of Good to Great and How the Mighty Fall) and my personal mentor and leadership guru, Dr John C. Maxwell.
The presenters were certainly top draw cards and respected in their individual fields. The challenge was that the Leadercast format was not well-known in New Zealand. The potential cost for me to promote the event was $30,000—and I only had three weeks to make a go/no-go decision as to whether I invested the money (which I didn’t have) and risk my marriage if it failed. The question for me to answer was, “Can I trust my gut instinct?”
Who Is In Your Personal Board of Directors?
In his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell identifies The Law of the Inner Circle. Maxwell goes on to say, “Nobody does anything great alone. Leaders do not succeed alone. A leader’s potential is determined by those closest to him. What makes the difference is the leader’s inner circle.”
What I believe Maxwell is saying here directly applies to us as leaders within our own businesses. Whom do we go to for guidance on the topics that require an external and objective perspective? Who can we trust?
In my case, I needed to make sure I didn’t make a critical decision in isolation. I ended up identifying five key people whom I approached to become my personal board of directors. You have to understand that I’m a man of faith. So it won’t come as a surprise for you to learn that the people I chose were identified based on two key criteria:
- Their business acumen, and
- Their spiritual oversight
They were not paid for their time. We simply put aside an hour for a coffee and I shouted the coffee (that had to be the best $4.50 that I invested in a long time!). It gave us the chance to talk through some of the opportunities and seek their insight and viewpoint. An important by-product of these meetings is that I stopped myself from becoming myopic and it helped me to identify potential blind-spots that could easily have derailed me.
Having met up with them individually over coffee and ran the ideas past them, I was then in a much stronger position to invite them to join me in a group meeting where I laid out the opportunity I had.
Do You Leverage The Wisdom of the Collective?
And the result of that meeting…? I ended up with nineteen critical questions to ask the organiser that I had not considered previously! By the time I received the answers, I reported back to my inner circle, and the advice given to me by all five was not to proceed with the Leadercast program at that point in time.
I believe that exercise helped me to save my business and my marriage.