The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) asked several leaders what the best leadership advice is that they have ever received. The answers given by this group hold a lot of value. If taken and used properly, you could find yourself gaining more leadership and creating a positive impact on your company. Below are 14 pieces of advice:
1. Listen Intently and Carefully
The best leadership advice that I have received is to focus on listening carefully to the feedback that you receive from the team that you are leading. Listening, not just hearing, is one of the most important skills that a leader must develop before they can become exceptional. Constant practice is required in order to excel at listening. It is something that should be practiced every day.
2. Respect Your Team
Hap Klopp, founder of North Face, offered me some advice over dinner one night: “People will only work for you if they respect you, otherwise they are working for themselves. Earn their respect and you can do great things.” Since that dinner, I have been very conscious about earning the respect of my employees by always following through on commitments, being honest and direct, and putting the team first.
– Enrico Palmerino, SmartBooks
3. There’s a Difference Between Hard and Uncomfortable Decisions
In his talk at Stanford University, Evernote CEO Phil Libin says that most people confuse hard and uncomfortable decisions. Most decisions are not hard — it’s actually very easy to know which is the right decision — but actually carrying out that decision is uncomfortable, so they delay. Once you recognize that the decision is actually easy, you can focus your energy on actually executing.
4. Do Not Rest on Your Laurels
This is one of the most important concepts to embrace when running a company. If you want your business to have longevity, you need to be constantly pushing new ideas, building new products and growing your client base. Do not become complacent.
5. Always Be Positive and Kind
One of my mentors has taught me that there’s never a reason to not be positive and kind to everyone. It’s outstanding advice and its had a positive impact on my interactions with others. Even in bad circumstances, being positive and kind is always better than getting angry. Candidly, I wish I did this more. I do slip up, but I strive to live by this mantra as much as possible.
6. You Can’t Be Perfect But You Should Try Your Best
If you think you are perfect, then you will become complacent and your company will stagnate. Alternatively, holding absurdly high standards of perfection is unhealthy and unproductive. I try my best tofollow the advice that you can’t be perfect, but you should always try your best. This mindset allows me to be happy with the success I have achieved while keeping me motivated to do even better.
7. It’s All About Relationships
No matter what kind of business you’re running, relationships are critical to success. Making the time to build genuine ones based on mutual respect is absolutely worth it. Not only do solid relationships expand your opportunity set, they’re also self-reinforcing. I strongly believe in and practice this philosophy, and believe it has been key to my business’ success.
8. Execution Is All That Matters
The most inspiring advice, and frankly best leadership advice, wasn’t directly given to me. To quote NFL Star J.J. Watt: “Success isn’t owned, it’s leased. And rent is due every day.” This quote drives home the fact that the glory of successes and wins is born out of hard work done on a daily basis. All the PR and traction in the world won’t matter if you aren’t ready.
9. Your Most Important Resource Is Your Human Resource
Build a culture of sharing and collaboration. This can only be created in environments where people feel safe to share their ideas and hopes. When you create a culture that is safe for people to share ideas, with the understanding that their their ideas will be listened too, you will find that you are not lacking in innovation and/or new solutions because they will come from your team.
10. The Devil Is in the Details
It’s the little details that really make the difference. Take your time, slow down and make sure things are being done right — or don’t do them at all. This is even more relevant today in business where sloppy products or experiences don’t cut it anymore. For instance, a website with poor flow that isn’t intuitive will cause a potential customer to leave. The right colors, wording, etc. all make an impact.
11. Help Others Reach Their Career Goals
The best leadership advice I’ve ever received is to help others reach their career goals. If your employees don’t know how to identify the steps needed to get them to their desired career trajectory, create it with them. Similarly, make sure you know what your clients career aspirations are so as opportunities arise you can help them.
12. Eat, Sleep and Exercise
Eat, sleep, exercise: These are the fundamentals for functioning as a human let alone as a successful leader. Entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint. A healthy body and mind are vital to make it to the finish line. You can’t be tired, hungry and out of shape if you want to be an effective leader. Take it from someone who started a business and immediately sacrificed all of the above.
13. Everyone You Meet Is a Potential Advocate
I was told to never forget the fact that everyone matters and can be a critical support to my success, even if others think they are unimportant. So, from both a moral and a practical purpose, I was instructed to always treat everyone with respect and value everyone’s ideas equally. It’s sometimes tough to live by, but I’ve tried and therefore found intros and partnerships in unexpected places.
14. Your Biggest Strength Is Also Your Biggest Weakness
I’ve thought about this tidbit from a mentor for about four years now, and only recently started to actually do something about it. I’ve been told my strengths include drive and determination. However, in turn my weakness has been not listening to others at times. Reflecting on past situations has pushed me to act on this advice, which helped promote further growth.
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