Being a Leader

by Jon Robert Quinn

When building a business, being a leader is most important, with the exception of the company’s finances of course. When you’re a leader, the employees and customers will respect you better than if you’re the COOL guy. Whatever you do, do not be a push over. Being a leader doesn’t mean you have to boss people around, but you must be a boss. You must be there as a mentor for your employees as well as love and respect each customer. If you’re a micro manager, you will irritate your employees and lose their respect. If you’re a bully, not only will you upset your employees, but it will bleed on your customers, in turn tarnishing the culture your business and hurting the company’s reputation.

So, how do you become a leader without becoming a jerk? It starts with being respectful to your employees and understanding their wants and needs but also having good policies in place. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Don’t but let them take advantage of you. Take interest in them. Get to know their families and their kids. For customers, giving a little freebee when it’s within a few days of their birthday may cut into your bottom end, but will do wonders for repeat business, keeping you in business and increasing your word of mouth advertising. For your employees, on their birthday, give a $50.00 gift card for a night out on the town and have them take the day off. This will do wonders to the loyalty they have for your company. When they return to work, they may enjoy the atmosphere more and in turn will probably work a little harder. However, when they do wrong, show them what they did wrong and teach them the right way to get it done. If they keep making the same mistake over and over, maybe this isn’t the best place for them.

When they need help or have a question, sit down and talk them through it. Show them that their hard work is actually appreciated. The best advice I can give is this, look at every boss you’ve ever worked for. Write down what you liked and didn’t like and make sure that you provide your employees with what it was your past employers were lacking. Company growth starts from the top and rolls downhill. If you treat people right and set proper expectations, that behavior follows all the way down the chain with the end result being a happier customer. Happier employees means happier customers.

This brings me to an important point. When Andrew Carnegie was building the Carnegie Steel Company, he got to a point where he needed to increase the company’s revenue. He brings in a rough and tough businessman by the name of Henry Frick to run operations. His less than orthodox way of running things left a sour taste in the mouths of the employees causing the Union to strike. After an intense battle, operations got back to business but not after several men lost their lives and ruined the reputation of Carnegie and his company. There was a right way and a wrong way to increase production and improve company profits. Unfortunately, the wrong choice was made here.

As a talk show host here in the Sacramento region, I work with a ton of local businesses and one that stands out to me is Nor Cal Auto Body. The owner Chad Riffe is innovative in his approach but loves his community and his employees and it shows in his work. He’s got a thriving business and isn’t afraid to step out of his comfort zone and take calculated risks to continue to build his brand and reputation. I love seeing businesses like this and there are a ton of them throughout the region. So, next time you’re thinking about increasing productivity and revenue, look at yourself first and then your employee. It’s a lot easier to keep your employees and clients happy than trying to find new ones when they leave.