Rather than short bursts of adrenalin fuelled efforts, which can get you short-term wins, long-term business success requires regular sustained steps. So what do you need to consider?
(1) Look after your own energy and health
If you are the leader of a small business then you are the business – and if the business is larger then you have considerable influence. With so much responsibility it’s important to take care of your health and energy levels. Find a formula that works for you and stick to it most of the time. This will not only be good for you, it will also be a great role model for your team. If you’ve never thought about this before there are three things to start with:
Sleep – Lack of sleep leads to many other problems including emotional regulation and cognitive thought. It also affects decision making, so make sure you are getting what you need.
Diet – Make sure you eat well and drink plenty of water. When we are busy we often crave carbs but as a general rule it is better to go for protein instead.
Exercise – If you love running or the gym then great, if not then just get out for a walk every so often. Try to move at least once every 90 minutes for ten minutes or so. This is both stress relieving and keeps your brain sharp.
(2) Go one step further…
…than other people or what you are used to. Just as you hit the “I give up” or “can’t be bothered” signals in your own head do just one more thing. Really successful people are prepared to go a bit further and make more effort than others – success is often a game of tenacity.
(3) Manage your resources with long-term business success in mind
In business you have three core resources; time, money and your people. Manage these with long-term business success in mind; will a spend now on technology pay back later? Is this all nighter really worth it? Do your people have all they need to perform at their best?
Making short-term decisions on these is easy because human beings are programmed to think short-term. It’s much harder to plan for the long term because it’s harder to predict. Get in some expert help if you need it.
(4) Behave in a way the future you will be proud of
Avoid as much as possible doing behaviour a future you will regret. This is not so much about making mistakes, any successful person will make mistakes and learn from them. This is about your everyday behaviour. The ends don’t always justify the means, so be careful before you treat people badly, allow unacceptable behaviour from others or let people walk all over you.
Leaders have to make difficult decisions, but even the toughest decisions can be delivered with respect and integrity. You are human, so under stress you won’t always behave exactly how you want to. If you can do it most of the time though you will be a better leader, better role model and run a successful business that runs itself.
Karen Meager and John McLachlan are the co-founders of Monkey Puzzle Training and are co-authors of Real Leaders for the Real World; The Essential Traits of Successful and Authentic Leaders (£12.99), which has received 5-star reviews and was awarded finalist in the International Book Awards.