Why Should Anyone Be Led By You?

Why Should Anyone Be Led By You

By Mike Myatt, Chief Executive Officer, N2growth

Why should anyone be led by you? This is the seminal question for all leaders. People arrive at a position of leadership in many different ways – some individuals openly and aggressively seek out positions of leadership, while leadership is thrust upon others. Whether leaders are elected, appointed, anointed, or self-proclaimed, and regardless of whether it is by design or default, once in a position of leadership they nonetheless carry the burden and responsibilities associated with being a leader. So back to the original question – Why should anyone be led by you?

Have you ever felt as if  the term “leadership” has a bulls-eye painted on it? Well, it’s because it does – the very mention of the word leadership seems to draw fire from increasingly large numbers these days. The term has been inappropriately hi-jacked by the politically correct who mock it, the avant-garde who belittle it, the naive who discount it, and the public at large seems to be growing tired of hearing about it. I’m befuddled by this dismissive attitude, and am left wondering how we could have arrived at such a place – how could something so valuable be trivialized by so many?

I’ve come to the conclusion that the reasons so many attempt to ridicule leadership are twofold: 1.) The masses of feigned leaders in the public eye make it easy to do so, and; 2.) Real leaders tend to practice their craft quietly, and with great humility, often going unnoticed in the public eye.

I was at a leadership workshop over the weekend and witnessed a leader self-assess himself as his own greatest risk. It’s true for all of us. Here’s a sobering thought for you to ponder – YOU are the single biggest threat to your role as a leader. Which means YOU are also the single biggest risk to your success in the workplace, with your spouse, to your children, and to your friends. If you are in a position of leadership, you will lead – you will either lead people toward the right things or lead them astray, but you will lead.

By my definition, leaders are not self-promoting, pseudo celebrities whose propensity for personal achievement and media attention far outweigh their true contributions. Rather than focus on the braggarts that litter the media with their personal triumphs, or the charlatans who provide constant reminders of failed leadership, we need to focus our attention on the true leaders who quietly walk among us each day…ethical business people, soldiers, firefighters, law enforcement officers, principled educators, pastors & theologians, medical practitioners, responsible parents, student achievers, volunteers, statesmen (notice I didn’t say politicians), good Samaritans, and the every day hard working American citizen. These are the real leaders who through their personal sacrifice, committed service, and selfless acts who deserve our respect and attention.

We’ve all witnessed the leader who tries to do too much, and conversely, most of us have also observed the leader in stealth mode. We’ve gladly followed the bright, affable and charismatic leaders and rebelled against the arrogant and self indulgent leaders who love to do little more than pontificate about their legendary prowess. The truth is no single label receives the unrelenting and often terse scrutiny (public and private) than that of leader. The pressure is intense, and the risks are high. The good news is the rewards can be tremendous for those who possess the requisite skills and character to not only hold the title of leader, but who are also capable of living up to the title.

When you closely examine the core characteristics of what really makes for great leadership, it’s not power, title, authority or even technical competency that distinguishes truly great leaders. Rather it’s the ability to both earn and keep the loyalty and trust of those whom they lead that sets them apart. Leadership is about trust, stewardship, care, concern, service, humility and understanding. If you build into those you lead, if you make them better, if you add value to their lives then you will have earned their trust and loyalty. This is the type of bond that will span positional and philosophical gaps, survive mistakes, challenges, downturns and other obstacles that will inevitably occur. Leadership is service. It’s not about you, but about the serving the needs of those whom you have responsibility for.

You don’t change mindsets by being right, you do it by showing you care. Logic and reason have their place, but they rarely will overcome a strong emotional or philosophical position. Trying to cram your positional logic down the throat of others will simply leave a very bad taste in their mouths. This is a very tough lesson for many to learn, but a critical one if you take your duties, obligations and responsibilities as a leader seriously.

The best leaders are capable of aligning and unifying opposing interests for a greater good. You won’t ever become a truly successful leader until you understand a person’s need to be heard and understood is much more important than satisfying your need to impart wisdom. I’m going to make this as simple as I can…leadership is all about the people – nothing more & nothing less. Are you worthy of being a leader? Why should anyone be led by you?

Thoughts?

First Impressions

First Impressions

First Impressions

By Mike Myatt, Chief Executive Officer, N2growth

Do first impressions really matter? While they shouldn’t, the reality is that they most certainly do. As the old saying goes “you only get one chance to make a first impression,” and often times it is the perception of appearance that determines whether or not you are even afforded the opportunity to get up to bat. The truth is most people when first meeting someone will quickly attempt to size them up. Whether consciously, or unconsciously, they will make quick value judgments in an effort to assess your credibility and flesh out your agenda. In today’s post I’ll examine how managing appearances can have a substantial impact on your personal brand and your success.

In a perfect world professionals would only be judged solely on their character, skill sets, competencies, and performance. But alas, we do not live in a perfect world. While appearances shouldn’t matter, the reality is that the car you drive, where you office, the clothes you wear, whether you’re in good physical shape, the vocabulary that flows from your lips, the company you work for, the publicity and PR you put out, whom you choose to associate with, how you appear online (social networking platforms, search engine results, etc.), and any number of other appearance specific issues can add to, or detract from, the strength of your personal brand.

I want to be clear that I’m not advocating for form over substance, extreme self-indulgence, narcissism, or masking insecurity by the trappings you surround yourself with. Rather, I am a proponent of paying attention to detail and facing reality. Even the most discerning people make value judgments at the subconscious level – it’s only human nature to use the power of observation in an attempt to validate perception. We want those with whom we work to not only be competent, but there is also an innate desire to have them look the part as well, as those individuals we choose to associate with will often times influence other’s perceptions of us.

In most cases, the old saying perception is reality isn’t too far off. If the right person, enough of the right people, or even enough of the wrong people believe something to be true, it may not matter that they’re wrong. Perception can in fact shape reality, even if said reality turns out to be a false reality. Managing impressions, perceptions, and opinions is important if you want to be in a position of influence. Put simply, what people think of you matters. We’ve all met many an individual quick to state “I don’t care what people think of me.” The person who utters this statement usually cares very much about what people think. If they don’t they are either very naïve or very arrogant.

While the next statement might seem a bit callus, I believe it’s true as it relates to both personal and professional relationships. At a base level, most people will very quickly attempt to discern whether you are a person of significance or insignificance, ally or adversary, friend or foe. In most cases people will perceive you in one of two ways – as a person who can help them, or as a person who can hurt them. Which camp you fall into will largely determine whether or not you’ll be included or excluded – whether you’ll be part of the inner circle, or to relegated to the periphery always finding yourself on the outside looking in.

Let me be transparent and use my personal situation as an example. I actually prefer to play to the middle in that I am neither understated nor overstated, but I am comfortable with who I am and my approach to the market. While I will dress in a suit and tie when appropriate, you’re much more likely to find me in jeans and casual sport coat. While I have driven a variety of luxury imports over the years, at this stage of life my Chevy Tahoe seems to fit my lifestyle the best. While I have a few swiss watches, my Timex Ironman is still my favorite. I will always attempt to put my best foot forward, but like me, love me, or hate me, I simply won’t feign appearances to win business…what you see is what you get.

The advice I give to my clients is to be true to yourself, and authentic in your approach to creating a great first impression. As an example, I don’t really care what someone pays for their clothing or automobile, or even how expensive their office accoutrements are, but I do notice whether or not they are well maintained and appropriate for the given situation. We’ve all witnessed the shallow attempts made by insecure people who are living large in an attempt to impress others, as opposed to creating a lifestyle that is authentic, within their means, and personally satisfying. The bottom line is that your appearance should be one that both you and your clients/customers/stakeholders are comfortable with. You should manage appearances on creating a feeling of comfort and engendering confidence…not on trying to impress. Most importantly, your family needs to be comfortable with how you conduct yourself.

While much is often said about “first impressions,” this phrase in and of itself implies subsequent impressions are made as well. Professionals must be just as diligent in their management of future appearances and impressions. I am a huge proponent of being consistent and having a high degree of continuity of impressions/appearances. If you happen to be someone who makes a great first impression, but cannot execute and/or deliver up to expectations you are just setting yourself up for failure and your clients will be even more frustrated than if they had never engaged you to begin with. A negative experience is worse for your personal and corporate brand than no experience at all.

Here’s the thing – it is not about how much you spend or spin, but the authenticity, integrity, and appropriateness of how you manage your appearance that matters. When who you are on the inside is completely congruous with who you portray yourself to be on the outside you’ll find that life will just seem a bit more enjoyable. Disingenuous and insincere positioning may get your foot in the door, but when the door slams into your backside as your engagement or relationship blows-up, don’t say I didn’t warn you…

Thoughts?

Leadership: Blinded by Success?

Blinded by Success

By Mike Myatt, Chief Executive Officer, N2growth

Can leaders be blinded by their own success? You bet…While success is what all leaders strive for, unless you’re prepared to handle it, success can quickly complicate your life. As strange as it may sound, success can often times be the precursor to failure. So my question is this: Is your success serving as a springboard toward significance, or is it merely a temporary state, precariously positioned and ready to implode with the slightest change in circumstance? Success without perspective, purpose, and focus can actually cause more harm than good. In today’s post I’ll discuss how leaders can either leverage success into significance, or if they’re not careful, have it serve as a catalyst for a rapid downward spiral…

While not often discussed, nothing dulls the senses like a taste of success. A chance encounter with success can often lead to a feeling of being indestructible, which in turn can lead to arrogance, and the belief that success itself will breed success in any situation. Once a leader starts to believe their own rhetoric, trouble is not far behind. The reality is that past success, in and of itself, does not necessarily serve as an indicator of future success.

Life is full of seemingly successful people who regularly fall from the ivory tower for no apparent reason. We’ve all witnessed the lottery winner who hit the big one only to have their new found wealth derail their life, as opposed to solve all their problems. We’ve seen the same thing happen to young politicians who dream of changing the world only to find themselves corrupted by their own ego once they arrive on Capital Hill.  How about the professional athletes who sign multi-million dollar contracts out of school? They all too frequently end-up running with the wrong crowd only to find themselves out of the league only a few years later with nothing left to show for their success. And finally, how about the executive or entrepreneur who rises to the top, gets the title and the paycheck to go along with it, only to later run their company into the ground and eventually lose their position and all the perks that went with it.

Are success and significance the same thing? Sometimes yes, and sometimes no. Sure, for those “who get it” success and significance are one in the same, but for most professionals success begins and ends with the achievement of a certain list of personal goals with little regard to the impact on others. These people confuse success with significance, and regardless of their wealth and professional accomplishments, they won’t accomplish the true greatness which only comes through making significant contributions to something other than one’s self. I don’t care how your resume reads, what your net worth is, or what your W-2 shows…what I care about is your motivation, and what you do with what you have.

The pivotal point in leadership maturity is when you remove yourself from the spotlight and focus on building into others. Sadly, too many leaders believe their legacy is something to be constructed at the end of their careers in an attempt to preserve a testimony to their accomplishments and achievements. This has nothing to do with leadership or legacy – it’s little more than a contrived attempt to rewrite history and preserve the myth their ego has fabricated. A real legacy has nothing to do with you, but how you’ve impacted the lives of others. It’s built day-by-day, decision-by-decision, relationship-by-relationship. A real legacy is lived in the present, and as a result it endures the test of time in magnificent fashion.

One of the questions I ask leaders is “how important is legacy to you?” It’s a question to which the answer often reveals what a person truly believes and values. The best answer I’ve received to date was in an interview with Jim Hotaling:

Personal legacy is something a servant leader should never think about. It is all about the organization. I would like to be remembered as someone who gave back to his country since the age of thirteen. I am an American Airman and I have answered my nations call. It’s that simple, I look for no accolades only the ability for myself to say thank you to my country for giving me and my family all that we have.”

Bottom line…Initial success can be a start to something truly great, or the beginning of the end. This will largely be determined by the victor in the battle between your humility and your hubris. Success as a leader has little to do with you, and everything to do with the success of those whom you lead. If the people you lead aren’t better as a result of your leadership, then all the material wealth in the world won’t allow you to sleep any better at night.

What say you?

15 Time Wasters

Leadership and Time – 15 Time Wasters to Avoid

15 Time Wasters

By Mike Myatt, Chief Executive Officer, N2growth

Time; it’s the only thing we all have in common, yet it’s how we choose to spend it that defines and differentiates us as individuals. Even though time is a key success metric, I am always amazed at how many leaders don’t manage it as such. Time is indeed a precious and finite commodity, and those executives who use it wisely are those who achieve the greatest results. Let me be very direct – show me an leader who doesn’t use time to its highest and best use, and I’ll show you a leader likely to be replaced by one that can. In today’s post I’ll not only examine the value of time, but I’ll also identify 15 time wasters all leaders should avoid.

The proper understanding of how to use time will ultimately determine a leader’s ability to achieve the results needed to be successful in the fulfillment of his or her duties. You see, time doesn’t slow, nor can it be accelerated or recovered; it can only be wasted, invested, or leveraged. I often hear people espouse the axiom “don’t work hard, work smart.” I have a bit of a different take on the subject as I encourage people to work very hard at working intelligently.

It doesn’t matter what your title is, what company you work for, where you went to school, or what continent you live on - the fact is you only have 24 hours in a day, which consists of 1440 minutes, and when reduced to the ridiculous amounts to 86,400 seconds. If you want to do more, earn more, serve more, influence more, or significantly change the level of your impact in any area, you simply must make more out of the time you have at your disposal. So, my question is this…How well do you leverage your 86,400 seconds?

The good news is time can in fact be leveraged – if you know how. Some people use only a portion of a full day, while others leverage the entire day, and those who are most productive leverage multiples of a day. Multiples of a day you ask? Through making good use of personal time, helping your team leverage their time, working across different time zones, associating with quality people and organizations, managing risk, understanding opportunity, and having a laser like focus on highest and best use principles, it is quite possible to leverage time by creating scale.

Many of the most productive leaders I know estimate they’re able to average nearly a full week’s work into a single 24 hour period while rarely working more than an average work week on a personal basis. Leveraging time is all about making good choices – are you making good choices?

The first step in making the most effective use of time is to avoid the following 15 workplace time-wasters (listed in no particular order):

  1. Not Listening: Failing to listen to dissenting opinions, new ideas, or sound counsel are career ending mistakes for a leader. Listening speeds your learning curve and deepens your subject matter expertise. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re saving time by not listening – the reality is you’ll be doing just the opposite.
  2. Not Finishing: Maximizing your time has much less to do with what you start than what you finish. People who make effective use of time don’t talk about what they’re going to do – they simply do it. The easiest way to measure how effective someone is with their time is to measure what they actually get done. Great leaders are always great finishers – certainty of execution matters.
  3. Working Longer Hours: This is one of the great corporate myths. Working longer doesn’t make you smarter, more effective, or a better corporate citizen. I’m not suggesting you shirk responsibility, but I am suggesting you refrain from becoming an indentured bond servant. Working consistently long hours numbs your mind, hurts your relationships, stifles your creativity, hinders your development, and it sets the wrong example. Working longer hours simply means you don’t understand how to use your time well.
  4. Inability to Focus: A lack of focus and shifting priorities will create unnecessary chaos in the life of any leader. It’s important to remember that part-time efforts yield part-time results.
  5. Technology Interruptions: Allowing technology (phone, email, IM, texting, social media, etc.) to serve as a distraction instead of an enhancement – those leaders who allow technology to control them as opposed to controlling the technology have an addiction that needs a cure – discipline.
  6. Bad Planning: Few things adversely impact productivity like a lack of planning. There is an old military saying that I’ve always found true – Prior Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.
  7. Initiative Overload- Biting-off more than you can chew is a sure way to over-complicate things in a completely unproductive fashion. Keep in mind that no matter who you are, a rubber-band stretched too tightly will eventually snap;
  8. Drop-in Visitors; It’s one thing to have an open door policy, it’s quite another to let unscheduled interruptions derail your focus. If you don’t respect your time, neither will anyone else.
  9. Ineffective Delegation; There is a big difference between delegation and abdication. Either not enough delegation, too much delegation, or improper delegation can substantially harm an organization. Smart leaders view delegation as proper alignment of resourcing such that the best talent is matched with the greatest opportunities or the biggest challenges – nothing more, nothing less.
  10. Poor Organization: Leaders who are not organized will become failed leaders. There is no excuse in today’s world for any leader to have a lack of organizational skills. If you’re not organized, stop making excuses and get the help you need to solve the problem.
  11. Procrastination; Sticking your head in the sand and pretending things will miraculously take care of themselves is the act of a coward – not of a leader. Real leaders don’t avoid big issues, they hit them head-on. A proactive approach is almost always a better position to be in than finding yourself in a reactionary defensive posture.
  12. Improper use of “Yes” & “No:” While I’m a big believer in finding a way to get to a ”yes” there are simply times when a leader must say “no.” Using yes or no improperly simply because it’s the easy thing to do is not good leadership. Real leaders understand that questions deserve more than an answer – they deserve the correct answer.
  13. Unproductive Meetings: If you find yourself leading or attending unproductive meetings you need to change the culture within your organization. Don’t waste time by allowing yourself or others to be sequestered for hours of nonsense so that people who like to hear themselves speak are appeased.  Meetings should catalyze fruitful outcomes, not squander resources and adversely impact morale. The best leaders understand the meeting never takes place at the meeting – preparation matters.
  14. Not Learning: If you don’t continue to grow and develop how can you expect to make the most out of your time. Great leaders are always ahead of the curve by knowing what and with whom to invest their time in. Static, outdated thinking will only cause you to make poor choices with regard to how you spend your time.
  15. Not Engaging: You cannot leverage time in a vacuum. If you don’t spend time in collaboration and dialog with others you will miss significant opportunities to leverage time. As a leader focusing your efforts on creating organizational leverage through helping others make more effective use of their tools, talents, and time is a must. Smart leaders know only listening to your own counsel is perhaps the ultimate waste of time.

Time can either be your best friend or your worst nightmare. Leaders that understand how to use time to their advantage accomplish great things, and those who allow time to slip through their fingers don’t. The lesson to learn is to accomplish more through organizational leverage while decreasing personal time commitments. Remember that time is a finite commodity, and once a moment in time has passed it is gone forever.

I welcome your thoughts and comments below…

Is the Customer Always Right?

Is the Customer Always Right

By Mike Myatt, Chief Executive Officer, N2growth

Is the customer really always right? How far should a company go to satisfy their clientele or customer base? What is the lost opportunity cost associated with customer churn? Is there a point when satisfying the customer is actually harmful to the enterprise, or back to the original question, is the customer always right? In today’s post I’ll share my opinion as to the validity of this old business axiom, and also offer a few insights on where to draw the line…

I believe all businesses should use great care and concern when determining how their customers and clients are treated. The time, energy, and cost associated with acquiring a customer are substantial, the benefits of retaining customers are considerable, and the costs associated with customer churn are significant. I’m always amazed at how much money will be spent to acquire a new customer, but how little care is given to insuring customer satisfaction after the sale.  There is great truth in the old axiom that states: “if you’re not serving your customer well, someone else will.”

If as an executive you believe customer service is someone else’s problem, you have a much bigger problem than you realize. While I believe most CEOs have a grasp on the concept of lifecycle value, I’m not sure they really understand the true cost of losing a customer. Let’s just assume that the lifetime value of a customer for company X is $2,000 dollars. If company X loses just one customer, the total lifecycle loss could run well into the tens of thousands, if not the hundreds of thousands. If you don’t believe me consider the following 7 points:

  1. The Initial Churn: First you have the $2,000 dollar lifetime value loss attributed to churning the account itself.
  2. Sunk Acquisition Costs: Don’t forget to add in the cost of acquiring the account to begin with. You spent very real dollars to acquire the account so you need to factor that into the total equation. I’ll let you pick the percentage you want to use and add that into the total number.
  3. Replacement Costs: Remember the cost of acquisition number you just calculated above? Well, you need to add it back in again, because now you have to go out and replace the customer you just lost. By the way, you should probably multiply the cost of acquisition number by 5 since it costs about 500% more to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one.
  4. Lost Ancillary Revenue: On average, a single account is good for a 30 -40% cross-sell/up-sell revenue increase over time as new products, services, joint ventures etc. are brought on line and offered to existing accounts. This means you can conservatively expect to lose another $600 dollars of upside in our $2000 dollar example.
  5. Lost Referral Revenues: Depending on your business, and whether or not you have a solid customer acquisition process in place, a single account should be good for a minimum of 2-3 referrals (direct or indirect) on an annual basis. Over a 10 year period of time, assuming only 2 annual referrals, without any cross-sell or up-sell value being added-in, you just lost another $200,000 dollars.
  6. Loss of 2nd & 3rd generation referrals: But wait; it just gets worse….Those lost referrals mentioned above would have also given you 2-3 referrals each year, and if you carry this formula out over 20 years the loss of a single account could easily cost your organization more than a million dollars in lost revenue.
  7. Negative Brand Impact: If it isn’t bad enough already, a lost account can easily have a negative impact on future sales due to spreading the news of their bad experience with your company.  The average dissatisfied customer will persuade 10-20 other people from doing business with your firm. If the upset customer takes their dissatisfaction online and amplifies it via social media you could see a much bigger problem. This will not only impact your revenue, but can also taint your brand equity.

The bottom line is that it is very expensive to lose an account. That said, I also believe there is a point where customers can begin to abuse the good will of the merchants and service providers who work so hard to earn their business. So, when does a customer cross over to the dark side and become your worst nightmare? The answer is a fairly simple one – when the squeaky wheel becomes so loud that the brain damage involved in greasing it becomes too high, if an account doesn’t deal in good faith, if they become unprofitable to keep, or when you can replace them with more profitable accounts.

Regrettably, experience has shown me that a small percentage of customers/clients live for the chance to wield their perceived power over their merchants, vendors, suppliers and professional service providers. These customers are the proverbial “squeaky wheels” that demand to be greased. These are the verbally abusive customers who expect special consideration, and whose demands can far exceed the boundaries of reason. There is in fact a point where “bad customers” can erode margins, negatively affect morale, or even tarnish a brand. These customers not only are not right, they deserved to be fired…

The following tips will help you minimize the amount of bad customers served by your enterprise and will show you what to do once a customer crosses over to the dark side:

  1. Align Expectations: Where possible, and especially if your business has the luxury of choosing your customers, make sure that mutual expectations are both defined and aligned at the outset of the relationship. Ensure your client understands what types of customer behaviors will be accepted and what types of behavior will not be tolerated.
  2. Develop Customer Scorecards: You should actually profile your clientele such that you understand the difference between good accounts and bad accounts. Much like you have performance reviews for your employees, you should also conduct an analysis of how your customers are performing. Not all accounts are accretive, and more accounts than you think may in fact be dilutive.
  3. Turnover Bad Accounts: When a client is identified as being a bad account either not capable of being saved nor worthy of salvaging, you should strongly consider firing the client. Evaluate the bottom tier of your clientele each year, and look to upgrade your clientele either by improving account performance or by releasing the client and replacing that business with a better quality account.

Those of you who have worked with me know that I state very clearly at the outset of any new relationship that I reserve the right to terminate an engagement if said engagement turns out to be less than a fruitful endeavor. While I feel privileged to serve my clients, and am thankful for the opportunity to earn their business, I also believe that the relationships should be reciprocal in nature. Business as they say is after all a two-way street…

Thoughts?

Twitter

To fit-in is admirable, to stand-out noteworthy, and to do either when needed is called experience. #Leadership

Promote Your Blog

Promote YOUR Blog Day

Promote Your Blog

By Mike Myatt, Chief Executive Officer, N2growth
Today is promote your blog day 2012. Today is your day for fully authorized, gratuitous self-promotion of YOUR blog. For one day only, this is your chance to shamelessly plug your blog in the comments section below. I did this last yearand thought I’d make it an annual event. It’s a fantastic way to help readers who share common interests find one another. So here’s how it works – In the comments section of this post include: Your name, blog name & description, link to your blog, RSS feed, your Twitter handle and any other relevant information you think would be of interest to other readers. I’ll approve all comments appropriate for our audience (G-rated only). If you participated last year, feel free to do so again. If you don’t have blog, but want to promote someone else’s blog that’s okay too.

Leadership and Resourcing

Leadership and Resourcing

Leadership and Resourcing

By Mike Myatt, Chief Executive Officer, N2growth
It’s not what you have, but what you’re able to make out of what you have that matters. Every great leader understands the importance of creating leverage via proper resource allocation. The best leaders possess an innate understanding of how to create resources where none exist - they know how to deploy and redeploy resources to maximize opportunities and to minimize risk. So my question to you is this; are you over-resourced, under-resourced, resource aligned, or do you even know? In today’s post I’ll look at the topic of resourcing as a key success metric for anyone in a leadership position.

If you think CEO means chief everything officer, your tenure in the C-suite won’t be long. Attempting to do everything yourself is nothing short of a recipe for disaster as a CEO, and in fact, is exactly the opposite of how top performing CEOs think. Furthermore, the best CEOs consistently spend time contemplating how not to do things themselves. Let me be clear that I’m not advocating an abdication of responsibility, but rather an understanding of highest and best use of financial, human, and technology resources.

The essence of Leadership is not found in doing things yourself, but in teaching others how to do things better than you ever could. Leadership is about teaching, coaching, developing, and mentoring. Leadership has nothing to do with hoarding knowledge, but everything to do with distributing knowledge. Without leveraging down it is virtually impossible for a CEO to create any real velocity or momentum in growing the enterprise.

It has been my observation that when deadlines are missed, or important initiatives don’t get off the ground, it is usually an issue of poor resource management. When I hear CEOs say things like “I didn’t have time” or “I didn’t have the necessary resources” I only have one question: Why not? When I hear a CEO complain about a lack of revenue growth while maintaining a small sales force supported by paltry marketing investments, I’m left shaking my head in wonderment at how such a huge blind spot could possibly exist. You see if the project/initiative was worth planning and implementing, it should have been worth resourcing.

As a CEO, if you couldn’t resource the project you either had a flaw in your planning process, you misunderstood or misapplied your talent, or you should have never started the project/initiative to begin with. The most successful CEOs are like the corporate version of MacGyver in that they can overcome any obstace with whatever resources they have at their immediate disposal. If you expect miracles from your under-resourced staff you are likely to be disappointed. However if you expect great things from an appropriately resourced staff, you will be consistently rewarded. If you continually stretch your resource rubber band too tightly, trust me when I tell you that it will eventually snap.

Here’s the big takeaway – As a CEO, your goal is not to see how much you can get out of your people, but rather how much leverage you can create for your people…there is a big difference.

On the flip side of the coin is being over-resourced…overspending is not the same thing as making prudent investments. Just throwing money and resources at a problem is not a solution…it simply constitutes unnecessary margin erosion. Overspending is a tactic for the lazy or the incompetent. The trick is to throw the right talent, and the appropriate investment at a challenge in a fashion that creates a certainty of execution while still generating return on investment.

The bottom line is this – apply your best talent and the lion’s share of your operating capital towards exploiting your greatest opportunities or toward solving your greatest challenges. Everything else is majoring in minors…

Thoughts?