As a business leader today, what are the necessary key skills?
Given the context of extreme uncertainty, where must a leader focus? Tough decision making. Courage. Ensuring others shine. A leader grows and empowers those around them.
Henry Lopez is a Serial Entrepreneur, Small Business Coach & Consultant, and Host of The How of Business podcast show. He has over 35 years of diverse business experience, including successful careers in the information technology industry, sales, and sales training. He has been directly involved in over 11 different small businesses since purchasing his first business in 1991, And he is involved at every stage of launching, developing, buying, and selling.
What you will learn from this episode:
- Find out one important capability a leader needs to have to run a business
- Learn what a leader should think and do to ensure everyone’s working together to help achieve common goals
- Learn how to build a business and lead others truly
“Leaders are the ones … to make those tough decisions.”
– Henry Lopez
02:00 – Looking from a small business perspective, what is one capability leaders need to develop?
03:00 – The important questions you need to ask yourself before going into business
04:17 – What does a leader do in moments of crisis
05:12 – What biggest mistakes business owners commit to running their business
06:22 – Why develop and empower your people
08:23 – What responsibility do you have as a leader of an organization?
10:04 – Two questions you need to ask your team in your weekly sales meeting
10:48 – Delegation worksheet as a systematic approach to delegation
11:51 – Steps on how to delegate effectively
13:55 – What holds people back on decision making?
15:14 – An embarrassment that we have to learn how to deal with as entrepreneurs
16:06 – The biggest thing that you’re missing when you do away with a delegation and empowering others
“It’s not that I, by any stretch think I’m always making the right decisions; it’s to have the courage to make a decision because that’s often what we need.”
“What paralyzes people sometimes is they think, ‘I have to have it perfect every time.’ Or ‘What if I make the wrong decision, and then what will people think about me?’ Or ‘What will that do to the business?’ But that paralysis, otherwise, can kill your business.”
“Real leaders say to their teams, just by example, ‘We’re going to figure this out. We may not, but we’re going as sure as heck give it a try. We’re not just going to sit here idly and let it happen to us. We’re going to try to impact the things that we can.’ That’s what a leader does in those moments of crisis.”
“A lot of times now, we have a virtual team, but trying to do it all yourself. That’s not what a leader does. A leader empowers others to do so that everybody’s working together to help us achieve our goals.”
“What I find is that people who aren’t leaders think they have to do it all. That only they can do it right. They have to make the doughnuts every day, instead of empowering others to become great donut makers.”
“I think the biggest way you coach your people is by making sure that they have the systems and the tools to do their jobs.”
“The biggest thing that you’re missing [the issue of delegation], besides the fact that you have to leverage others to grow is that you’re missing out on the perspective that others bring to it that you would have never thought about. Everybody has a unique voice. So, you need perspective.”
Connect with Henry Lopez:
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/henry-lopez-9758524/
- Website: https://www.thehowofbusiness.com/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/HenryLuvsBiz
Full Episode Transcript:
Leaders need to be the ones, especially in a small business environment where it might be very likely a very small group. You have to be wanting to make those tough decisions.
Hello and a very warm welcome to another edition of Unshakeable Leadership. My name is Bruce Ross, and it’s my privilege to have the highly regarded Henry Lopez with us here today. Henry, a very warm welcome to you. So, whereabouts in the world, are you? Bruce, I
Bruce, I am on the East Coast of Florida about an hour and a half north of Fort Lauderdale.
Fantastic. So, a little bit of background for our listeners. Henry is a serial entrepreneur, small business coach and consultant, and host of the How of Business Podcast Show. Henry has over 35 years of diverse business experience, including successful careers in Information Technology, sales and sales training. He’s been directly involved in over 11 different small businesses since purchasing his first business in 1991, and involved at every stage, so, launching, developing, buying, or selling. As an example, he’s currently involved in or as a managing partner of the Levante Business Group supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses. He’s a co-owner of a restaurant in Colorado Springs, is a co-owner of a travel agency, and a minority partner and investor in a co-working Business Center. He currently resides, as he mentioned in Port St. Lucie in Florida with his wife, Pam. So, a very warm welcome to you. My first question, you’re very strong in the area of business, business growth, setting up, developing, and so on. From a leadership perspective, what are the biggest challenges that you help leaders face?
So, in keeping it from that small business perspective, Bruce, there are several things, but if I had to pick one, it’s decision making. Okay, I think that leaders need to be the ones, especially in a small business environment, where might be very likely a very small group. You have to be wanting to make those tough decisions, right? Often, I work with people who make that transition from the corporate world or likely someone above us made the really hard decisions that whether your business is going to survive or not decision. And of course, now, with COVID, I’ve seen a lot of small business owners get paralyzed. So, decision making is probably one of those things because that from a leadership perspective is what then tells the rest of your group, your team, your partners, it gives them the confidence to say, ‘Okay, that’s where we’re going with this.’ So, I would say decision making is one of the top things that you have to develop.
So, how do you develop that capability?
This is a tough one. I almost think it’s a combination of, you’re born with it and you’ll learn it. I think it’s one of the things you really have to assess before you go into business. The question I would have you ask yourself is, ‘Am I the type of person that likes making the tough decisions?’ And, ‘Do I have a little bit of that arrogance, certainly confidence that says, ‘I am okay with making the tough decisions.’ Now, it’s not that I, by any stretch think I’m always making the right decisions; it’s to have the courage to make a decision because that’s often what we need. I have enough confidence experience to know that most of my decisions are probably going to be okay. Some of them are going to be really good. Some of them are going to be abysmal. But nonetheless, I have to have the courage to make the decision. What paralyzes people sometimes is they think, ‘I have to have it perfect every time.’ Or ‘What if I make the wrong decision, and then what will people think about me?’ Or ‘What will that do to the business?’ But that paralysis, otherwise, can kill your business.
And that certainly, because you’ve got the compounding impact of COVID at the moment, which is that whole threat, worry, uncertainty and that constricts our thinking. And I’m still going to make decisions, and they could be the high-risk decisions. It’s a challenging time.
Yeah, everybody, I talked to, I had a gal who was on my show recently, and she put it very well. For the first couple of weeks, she curled up on the couch and kind of, you know, fetal position and cried about it. And I think we all did that. But then the real leaders get up and say, ‘All right, how do we overcome this?’ And the real leaders say to their teams, just by example, ‘We’re going to figure this out. We may not, but we’re going as sure as heck give it a try. We’re not just going to sit here idly and let it happen to us. We’re going to try to impact the things that we can.’ That’s what a leader does in those moments of crisis.
And even that to get out of the fetal position says, ‘Right, I’ve got to make a decision about who I am in this world.’ I mean, that’s a key decision right there. Yeah, totally. So, what are the biggest mistakes you find that business owners, business leaders are making now?
You know, it’s about… it’s a mindset kind of thing. As far as existing small business owners, Bruce, it’s related to that decision-making. And it’s not empowering others on your team. And it could be people that work for you, could be freelancers, because a lot of days now, a lot of times now, we have a virtual team, but trying to do it all yourself. That’s not what a leader does. A leader empowers others to do so that everybody’s working together to help us achieve our goals. So, that’s the biggest thing I see. You’ve heard it, expressed different ways, Seth Godin, and the E-myth talks about working on your business, not in your business. What I find is that people who aren’t leaders think they have to do it all. That only they can do it right. They have to make the doughnuts every day, instead of empowering others to become great doughnut makers, right? That, to me is the key component in leadership that I think is a big challenge for small business owners.
Right, how to step back, how to delegate, how to have… is it having faith and confidence? I guess it’s another decision that I believe in my people.
Absolutely. You have to develop your people. I think you got to look at it. Sometimes we can look at it as well, only I can do this right. My business partner, David began to help me learn this lesson years ago that because I’m a perfectionist type, most of us small business owners are, we’re type-A’s. You know, we have this idea of how something is done. But what he helped me learn is a couple of things. First of all, sometimes 80% is more than good enough. Secondly, and here’s the thing that’s so powerful. When I delegate to someone else, that’s the right person, right? If I’ve done the right job of bringing in people onto my team, and I do a good job of cultivating those people, they’re going to bring a perspective, a different approach to that idea that I likely may never have thought of. So, you’re missing out on all of that brainpower that you’ve assembled, without letting them make a decision. And then furthermore, it undermines them, right? It really does undermine a team, when they know, and people know that you don’t trust them enough to make a decision or trust them enough to do something, or that you’re always looking over their back to criticize it and to nitpick it. You have to let go of that if you’re going to become an entrepreneur. If all you want to do is be a solopreneur, then fine. Then you can get away with that, perhaps. You know, my dad was a good example of this, Bruce. He was a master carpenter. But he never was able to develop the skill of leading others to do the quality of work that he did. He never thought anybody else’s work was good enough. And so, to the end of his dying days, he made good money, but only by himself. He was never able to build a business; he was never able to lead others. And that’s the big thing we have to look at.
So, I get it that you entrust what’s valuable to other people called delegation? What’s the support mechanism once you’ve passed that across? How closely do you stay with those people? Or what? Have you given them feedback? I mean, how do you support them in their journey of development?
I think the biggest way you coach them is by making sure that they have the systems and the tools to do their jobs. So that’s the other responsibility we have as the leader of an organization, we have to make sure that we develop the systems from day one we take this approach, you know, the franchise approach to building a business, so that they have the systems to do things, especially the things that have to be done a certain way every time. For the more creative things, you just got to define some boundaries and guidelines and coach them that’s a little bit more difficult. And then as a leader, you have to make sure your team has the tools and the resources to do their job. What I have found is that most people, again, if you hire right, most people want to do the right thing, they want to develop, they want to do, they want to have pride in the work that they do. But we have to be careful with how are we encumbering them, do they have the systems and the tools and the resources to do what they do? So, an example of that… I coach a lot of salespeople… In your weekly sales meetings as the owner or the manager, two questions you should always ask them or certainly one question, do you have the resources to get done what you need to get done? And if not, let’s talk about that, right? And sometimes resources as simple as, hey, you know, I’m having a hard time getting Bruce’s time. I really need that time this week so that I can finish this project. Okay, let me facilitate that as a leader, right? But that’s what I think is key to helping those people, empowering those people is making sure they have the systems, the tools, and the resources to do their job.
So, you say there are two questions you need to ask sales during the sales meeting? What was the first question?
The first question is always, what’s your top priority? You know, what? Do you get an opportunity? Because if you got to help people prioritize, got to help people focus. So that we stay singularly focused. And in particular, in sales, there can be a lot of noise, and a lot of busywork. And so, you got to stay focused. And I think a good leader helps to do that. Whether you’re the boss, meaning the owner, or whether you’re the sales manager, that’s got to be part of your role, I think.
Got it. Other actionable tips. So, what are some practical steps, ideas, hacks even that can help either in the delegation or help with the meeting or help with a leader’s self-esteem? What some actionable tips that you would highly recommend?
Well, since we’ve been talking about delegation, Bruce, we developed, believe it or not, and we use it a lot early on is a delegation worksheet as a tool, going back to that concept, that helps, especially if I’m new at delegating, to think through the proper steps of delegating. And so, it’s a worksheet and we’ll be happy to offer it as a free download, that helps you think through the steps and how to do it because I think when you have a tool to use, you’ll remember the proper ways to delegate, right? And it also has a spot on the bottom to follow up to make sure that that task is being performed the way you want it to be performed. So, applying kind of a systematic approach to delegation is, I think, what I have found to be huge, especially if delegating is something that’s difficult for me, or is new, or I haven’t done it very well, then that’s a tool that I find that’s very powerful.
Brilliant. Do you mind to share some of the steps?
Yeah, so the first is to kind of identify what is that task or that job or that project? Yes. The other thing is to then mutually agree on? What is the outcome that we’re looking for? So, what is the desired outcome so that I don’t give you something to do with a mystery if you’re not having to read my mind, right? What are we jointly establishing as the goal? What are we measuring as a success so that when this task gets performed, if it’s something that’s on a repeated basis? Or if it’s a one-off project, what are we saying is the expected results? I also like to include what happens if we don’t do this? What are the bad things that can happen? So, we can continue to have a loss in this department, and we might continue to have poor inventory turnover, whatever the consequences might be? Because I think that creates buy-in into why are we doing this particular thing as an organization? Right? It could be as simple as if it’s something like, for the first time delegating someone else entering invoices. Oh, the thing that can happen is our vendors don’t get paid, they shut down our credit. And we sour that relationship, those could be the things that happen, right? So, it has that expectation clearly defined. And then we identify on there, what are those tools and resources that I need to develop, to continue to perform or execute on that task that you’ve delegated to me. And then a follow-up, we’re going to follow up at a specific point in time to see how that’s going. That sounds really structured and very formal. And it can be, I would suggest that you just use it initially. And you’re going to kind of stumble through it, because it’s going to be awkward, just like any new habit to learn, but use it and adjust it. The point is that you have something that helps you methodically learn how to delegate effectively. Does that make sense?
Absolutely. That’s great. And I’m sure our listeners will get great value. I’ll make sure the URL to that is in the show notes. My final question for you is what is the question that I should have asked you? And then your answer?
I was thinking about it as it relates to decision-making. Maybe you kind of asked around it, but the biggest thing that I find, Bruce, as to what holds people back on decision making, and often is when they’re first getting started in the business, but it could be like we just talked about what something like COVID happens, is getting over the fear of embarrassment of what others might think. I find that to be the number one reason it keeps people from starting a business, for example. But I think that if you don’t overcome that, even before you started your business, it seeps into the way that you lead your business. And so, if you’re constantly afraid of the embarrassment of what others might think, then you’re not going to be able to lead, you have to lead boldly. And you have to have the courage that you’ll make the decision and you’ll live with the consequences. Right? But I think that that question of what is it that keeps us from decision-making? What is it that keeps us from launching our first business, what is it that keeps us from growing? I think a lot of that is those fears that we’re embarrassed about what others might think.
Wow. So, it’s a fear that can keep us small. And of course, at the moment with COVID, we’ve got fear of steroids. And that’s going to be challenging with decision making.
Yeah. And there’s a lot of people right now that are afraid of having to say, you know, that you remember that business? That was so great last year, Bruce? Well, I had to shut it down. Right? That’s an embarrassment that we have to learn to deal with as entrepreneurs. You know, I’ve been fortunate to have a few more successes and failures, but I’ve had plenty of failures. It’s how you respond to that, you know, easy for me to say, right? If you have all of your chips on the table here, and this one business, and it fails, that’s catastrophic. But, hopefully, you didn’t put that to all that much at risk. The thing is, can you pick yourself back up and say, we’re going to do this again, or we’re going to pivot or we’re going to attack it again. That’s leadership.
Absolutely. my very last question is, as a final flavoring, what would you like to leave our listeners with? Is it consideration or is it contemplation?
I would say since we’ve done such a deep dive on delegation, I would kind of reiterate the point that I get it as a type-A personality, as a perfectionist, it was drilled into me by my dad, to be a perfectionist. The biggest thing that you’re missing, besides the fact that you have to leverage others to grow is that you’re missing out on the perspective that others bring to it that you would have never thought about. Everybody has a unique voice. So, you need perspective. And if you’ve surrounded yourself with the right people, you want that, right? You want that perspective. And if you don’t include them if you don’t empower them, then what happens is, first of all, you’re going to start to lose the good people because they don’t want to work in those environments anyway. You’re just going to get people that kind of robotically perform the tasks you give them. But if you want that, and you want to be able to grow from others, then by empowering them, and by delegating them, I think that’s the biggest thing you got to focus on, is, you’re right, I’m right, that it may not get done exactly how I would do it. But a lot of times, maybe that’s better. And so that’s the thing I would like to leave you with.
Nice, very good. Well, you’ve really introduced us to some core considerations around decision-making, the fear of what stops us from making decisions, and especially the importance of supporting our people, delegating, supporting them once you have delegated and ensuring clarity around that. So, absolutely one of the important elements, absolutely one of the important elements within leadership is you’re getting not only the input from your people, but also your trust, their trust, and their loyalty because you have given them responsibility. So, fantastic. I’ve really enjoyed the conversation and I would like to thank you on behalf of our listeners. Thank you very much for your time and wisdom.
Thank you, Bruce.
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