Everything that happens in any company comes down to the leader’s ability to do the work, delegate the work or find someone who can do the work the leader may not be capable of doing. The turning point for most businesses, including my own snow removal business, is when the owner of the company has the courage to engage in an internal audit of his abilities to lead not only the company but the people in his charge.
Before the flakes of the next winter start falling, I suggest taking some time away from the day-to-day grind to take an honest look inward and identify where you are winning and losing leadership battles in your company. Don’t ignore the problems. Address them head on and find solutions by capitalizing on the strengths of those that complement you and your work. Taking care of those in our charge begins with a laser-like focus on three key areas:
Systematize and standardize operations
This particular responsibility requires leaders to take a 40,000-foot view of the company’s operations, including marketing, sales, and employee recruitment and retention. This means having the vision to create a standard process to fulfill each of these operations as well as the daily snow and ice removal activities. Leaders are responsible for mastering the core marketing and sales processes to grow their businesses, and need to possess the ability to recruit, train and retain the highest quality employees. In most cases, once leaders have mastered the sales and marketing functions, they fail to realize they can use these same skills to market and sell their businesses to attract the highest quality employees. Leaders must be able to attract the right people now, predict who will be needed in the future and also ensure they are doing the right work for the company.
Lead the financial stability of the company
This charge means focusing on budget creation and accountability for that budget. The leader is first responsible for creating a yearly budget that accounts for labor, equipment, and general and administrative costs. Once these costs are calculated with the leadership team, time should be spent updating the company’s pricing and budgeted man-hours for all current work along with work to be priced out in the future. The leader must hold the entire company accountable to the new budget. As leaders, we should be creating a culture of accountability and transparency by publicly sharing the daily or weekly budgeted times on jobs along with the company’s wins and losses.
Create the vision, mission and core values
Not only must leaders pave the way for the creation of these foundational aspects of the business, they must also embody these values in their day-to-day work. The most successful companies have a leader that facilitates a formal process to establish what their company stands for. Once these foundational aspects of a business are established, it becomes the leader’s responsibility to create a culture that hires, fires and trains to these core values and beliefs.