Numerous business owners have a problem they don’t like to talk about. They tend to be embarrassed about it and hope it goes away without their bringing it out in the open. Many don’t realize that far more people share this affliction than they suspect, and they continue to suffer in silence. It’s a subject that even our most admired leaders find hard to articulate. Do you know what I’m talking about? It’s managing your people. It’s dealing with all the issues that arise from getting to know people as we do in the workplace. It’s responding to the issues that arise as your people develop their own work relationships.
Translating our passion and vision to others can be a lot harder than it seems at first, and that’s only an early step. We need to do more than communicate well; we must align our business goals, values, and leadership style with how we compensate and reward our staff. We need our crew oaring in the same direction and for the right reasons. Otherwise, the CEO will be stuck in the middle of the boat for far too long, trying to tell individuals when and how to row, rather than choosing the course for the boat to take.
If there’s a secret ingredient to our success, and the success of many successfully liberated CEOs, it’s this: workplace culture is key and having each member of your team thinking like an owner (TLO) is the foundation to culture. When done properly, the strategies outlined in this chapter and the next will help to change your company from a personal-service firm to a true business, with a long-term expectation of longevity beyond the founder. The TLO mindset—Thinking Like an Owner—has changed the world and is one of the most productive and positive forces in the history of successful economies.
Developing a TLO mindset
The success of the liberated CEO depends on developing a workplace culture where each member of your team is thinking like an owner. Developing a TLO mindset requires following these, among other, steps:
1. View employees as assets, like clients, not liabilities like computer equipment.
Family businesses offer useful lessons in the value of mentoring, training, and developing talent—such as giving people leeway to make mistakes and learn, which pays off in the long run with a stronger company from top to bottom.
2. Communicate the big picture.
Liberated CEOs must not only communicate openly about day-to-day business and client concerns, but share aggressively about the financial and operational realities of a business and what it must do to be profitable and create wealth.
3. Fix the process before you blame the people.
Great managers know that people aren’t perfect but perfectible.
4. Link compensation to the appropriate performance.
This model isn’t enough on its own to build a TLO culture, but it is the most transformative of a culture in the context of an entire strategy.
5. Manage culture through participation, training, and transparency.
If you want people to think like owners, treat them that way.
Here’s hoping something resonates with you about building a loyal team. For more on relating with your team, here’s an article on hiring advice from the uber-successful entrepreneur, Dave Ramsey.