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How do I become a great leader or boss?

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On a daily basis I speak to people whose bread and butter is small business — be they employees, employers or industry experts — so I know what’s on their minds.

This means I can tackle the issues that matter most to you, and show you how to play this game we call business in a way that will ensure you’re one step ahead.

I often talk to those at the top of their game, but how did they get there? And, more importantly, how can you get there too?

Being a great leader starts with leading yourself — Thomas Watson, IBM’s former chair, once said “nothing so conclusively proves a man’s ability to lead others as what he does day to day to lead himself”.

And Watson’s not alone — leadership guru and best-selling author John Maxwell is right there with him.

“Leaders have to develop themselves first; you can’t develop others and have them follow you if you haven’t developed yourself,” says Maxwell.

Maxwell reminds us a leader’s first responsibility is to define reality because a leader doesn’t run from the truth.

This is where many business owners trip up — they fail to take a brutally honest assessment of themselves.

This is the ‘make or break’ of what makes a good leader (and, of course, a good business).

But if this is what’s holding you back, all is not lost! Let me share some success stories of those who have been there and done that.

First up, meet the man who has carved quite the career. Neil Perry — restaurateur, entrepreneur and internationally renowned brand — turned his once small-time culinary vision into a big time business success story.

When I caught up with Perry, I reminded him of way back when, before he made the big time — I interviewed him in those early days shortly after he’d been given some pearls of wisdom from a business mentor.

That mentor told Perry to do a SWOT analysis — strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Sure, you’re saying, that’s the first lesson in Business 101.


This was a SWOT with a difference — instead of doing it on his fledging business, he put himself under the microscope.

And then he found people whose strengths were his weaknesses.

“You have to figure out what you’re good at and get people around you who can do the things that you’re not good at,” Perry told me. “That’s part of leading.

“The first thing you’ve got to remember when you’re a leader is you can’t do everything. Captaining a team is about getting the best out of all the people around you.”

Perry says a key ingredient to his success was to be surrounded by likeminded people who can drive the business in the same direction.

“You’ve got to have a bunch of likeminded people who will almost blindly follow you over the cliff — because sometimes, you’ve got to do that. Part of building a great business is getting all of these guys and girls together who really believe in the one philosophy.”

Without this philosophy, Perry says it’s hard — if not impossible — to move forward.

“You’ve got to be able to get people to follow you, you’ve got to put the flag up, you’ve got to march forward and people need to believe in something to be able to do that.”

But confronting the truth isn’t always about finding your weak spots — it can also be a chance to face your talent and strengths.

When I spoke with surfing legend (and lady to be reckoned with) Layne Beachley, she said it all boils down to self-belief and confidence in the ‘can do’.

She says you first need to say, “I’m worthy”.
Then, “I can”.
And, most importantly, “I am”.

And, let’s face it, if you’re going to take anyone’s advice, it’s Beachley’s — she’s defied the odds since the early 90s, making waves in a male-dominated sport and taking her first world title at an age many would class as veteran, before going on to claim another six. To boot, Beachley’s determination doesn’t end when she gets out of the surf — she’s launched a series of branded lines, turned her talents to event management, and sits on several charities.

And here’s another hot tip to leave you with — aside from attitude, Beachley says you have to have a goal and a vision.

“It’s really important that you have a goal. Write it down. I stuck it on my mirrors in my bedroom and just looked at that through the toughest times in my life. You’ve got a purpose to get yourself up in the morning, that will give you the motivation to overcome any obstacle you can ever encounter.”

Even if that obstacle is you.

Work on your business, not in it. To learn how, book a complimentary business assessment today with a Switzer Business Coach.

Important information: This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

Published on: Monday, March 29, 2010

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