The first thing I admired about my Wise Brother was his leadership skills. I did not immediately decide that he was a good leader as soon as I met him. I came to that conclusion from having observed him over a long period of time and seeing the results of his actions. This is an African entrepreneur who has mastered the art of leadership. Below are some of the lessons on business leadership that I learnt from observing my Wise Brother.
Provide a constant, long term vision
From the first time I met my Wise Brother to now, his vision has remained the same. He has executed his strategy pretty much as I read it in the business plan when he first engaged me. Everyone in his company, including the new people who have come in over the last four and a half years quickly get to understand what the business is about and it has made it easier for them to assimilate into the business.
Lesson – How you get things done might change, but keep your vision.
My Wise Brother was an early mover in his type of industry; and so I was lucky to see how he built the business. When others heard that I had worked with my Wise Brother’s company at the formative stages, they asked me to either partner them or consult for them in the same kind of business. Where I was asked to partner, I declined. Where I consulted, I watched the leader carefully. From having watched my Wise Brother in action, I realised that it was his skills and personality makeup that contributed immensely to his success. And so I benchmarked the leaders from a my Wise Brother base. And it turned out my assessments were quite accurate. Using this method of assessment, I could predict who would make it and who would struggle, by assessing the leader’s temperament.
Lesson – Your temperament should be suited to the type of business you are running.
2.Do not be afraid to admit when you are wrong
My Wise Brother has not executed all his strategy exactly as per the business plan. There was a division that my Wise Brother thought would make good business. However, after about a year he realised that this division was not going to work within their model. He admitted as much and so he shut it down.
Lesson – Not everything will work out as you planned. Stop wasting time on it and move on.
3.Drive the strategy
There is a story of the chicken, cow and pig where breakfast is concerned. The chicken supplies eggs and the cow milk for breakfast. They participate in the breakfast process. But the pig who supplies bacon is personally committed. My Wise Brother is perfectly happy to let others run with the execution of their part of the strategy, but if the execution falters, he will intervene and make sure the plan goes back on track.
Lesson – Never mind what anyone else will do within the organisation, the results are ultimately the responsibility of the leader.
4.Develop strategic relationships
My Wise Brother knows that he needs certain people or organisations on his side in order for him to achieve his goals. He will actively find a way to engage and keep close these partners to aid him and his company in its business journey.
Lesson – Cultivate relationships with influential people and organisations in your industry.
My Wise Brother brought in several partners when he started the business. These partners provided much needed start-up capital. To get this capital, he had to convince them to buy into his vision. In other words, he sold them his vision. Also when they started operations, he captured the first contracts for his company. These are some of the few examples which show that a leader needs to sell in various forms in their business journey.
Lesson – As a leader, you are the business’s chief salesperson.
6.Humble, but tough
Even though he is the head of a very successful company, when he speaks to anyone, he adjusts his style, tone and other mannerisms to make the person he is talking to feel at ease. However, he is decisive in dealing with issues that can disrupt or cause the business loss.
Lesson – Be humble, but don’t be a pushover.
7.Set the culture
If there is something I have greatly admired has been my Wise Brother’s ability to keep standards. His company is the leader in their industry and they have kept themselves in that position by having the best standards. Anyone who has worked there and could not maintain the standards has been shown the door. Those who have stayed fit the organisation culture and have become ambassadors of maintaining high standards.
Lesson – The leader sets the culture of a business; good or bad.
8.Have smart people in your team; and listen to them.
Many business leaders do not listen to the capable people working for them. So their smart people keep quiet and the business suffers. I have seen that listening to your smart people works through watching my Wise Brother. This has been one of the biggest reasons for his company’s success; his team.
Lesson – When you recruit smart people in your business, get out of their way and let them do their work.
9.Manage your business growth.
In the early stages, my Wise Brother’s business grew quite rapidly. I was surprised when he put in measures to slow down this growth. When I asked him about this move, he explained that it is important to know the capacity of your organisation to keep performing at a certain level. He told me that he slowed the business down so that they could maintain standards and provide the same or better service for the clients they already had.
Lesson – Too rapid growth in a business can kill the business. Manage growth.
I enjoyed writing this as it took me on a journey with my Wise Brother again. Taking note of the lessons, and I hope this will have the same effect on you as the entrepreneur that you are. Until next week, happy reading to you all.