Abraham Lincoln, one of history’s greatest leaders, once said, “If you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” This is a great reminder of what it takes to be a leader. The higher you climb on the ladder to success, the more you must remember the qualities and abilities of a great senior leader. As a passionate entrepreneur, I would like to share with you what I have learned about leadership, as I worked my way from rock bottom to the top of several successful companies.
1. Balance Involvement and Delegation
Being in a senior leadership position means that you have to oversee the workings of your company, but it doesn’t mean you must take them all on yourself. Doing so would be a recipe for disaster and burnout. While it is important for employees of all levels to see your involvement and passion for your business, it is also essential that you delegate tasks appropriately, and not micromanage. I operate several rehabilitation facilities, and as much as I would be at each one at all times, I have learned to put my trust in the managers, staff, and employees at each location.
2. Remain Fair and Open Minded
As a senior leader, you likely helped build your company from the ground up. As such, it might be easy for you to make a decision without considering all of the options. This “I already know best” attitude, however, may damage your company and your reputation as a leader. While quick decision-making is an essential part of your job, as a senior leader, you must also learn to assess each challenge in an unbiased manner. Before you make your next major decision, be sure that you have fully considered each option. For example, in my line of work, it is necessary to stay on top of the latest trends in rehabilitation. If a manager came to me with a new idea, I would fully research the topic, just as passionately as I did when I started my first treatment center.
3. Be Prepared to Make Unpopular Choices
While it is important that you factor in all sides when making important decisions, what you choose may not always be the most popular option. From your angle, you have the ability to assess challenges in a way that managers and employees may not. Thus, your decision, while based upon your expert opinion, may not strike others as the best choice. With that in mind, it is important to remember that you put the good of the company first, whether or not others understand your rationale at the time. For example, in my own businesses, I place community outreach and charitable events high on my list of priorities. While others may not see the immeasurable importance, I know that it is helping to aid the community in which I live and conduct business, therefore helping my company and employees thrive.
4. Trust and Be Trusted
Trust is an essential aspect of business success. When managers and employees feel that they can’t trust senior leaders (and vice versa), it creates an unhealthy workplace atmosphere. In these types of situations, not only are employees less motivated and productive, it also makes potential clients, investors, and partners wary of your cause. By letting my teams function with a certain level of independence and autonomy, and by always being open to new ideas, I have both earned and given trust within my business ventures.
5. Analyze the Past and See the Future
A senior leader must be able to focus on the grand scheme of things, rather than be bogged down by the minutiae. While it is important to be detail oriented, one must see the bigger picture or the larger goal before they can refine the finer aspects.
According to elite business ethics professor Marc Le Menestrel, “Having a solid sense of identity and vocation helps leaders be more adaptive to change, more creative, and more trustworthy…. In our rapidly changing business environment, rulebooks swiftly become redundant, and businesses must rely on their senior executives to be confident in their decisions.”
When I started my first rehabilitation facility, I found myself looking at what worked and what didn’t, generally, in the addiction recovery industry. From there, I was able to create a detailed plan that would ultimately lead me to success in the future.
Being a senior business leader requires you to have an all-encompassing view of your company, but it also allows you to inspire others in the workplace. If there is one thing I know, it is that passion breeds passion. By being a leader that can make informed decisions, but also one that employees are comfortable reaching out to, you will be on the road to success in your industry.
Per Wickstrom is the founder and CEO of Best Drug Rehabilitation, one of the top holistic rehabilitation centers in the country. He found sobriety after a decades-long struggle with addiction and has since dedicated his life and career to helping others find the same life-affirming success he has. Learn more from Per on his blog, or connect with Per via Twitter or Facebook.