Having worked with many successful small and midmarket companies for well over 20 years, I recognize the following common attributes of these companies and their leadership teams:
- They Set the “Elements for Success”
- Numbers – Watch Revenues, Expenses, and Net Earnings Before Taxes (NEBT) like a hawk.
- Customers – Build loyal and elated followers.
- Employees – Treat them like family or better.
- Focus/Discipline – They focus on the Critical Success Factors and Key Performance Indicators for the company.
- Passion, aka “Driven” – The best leaders are passionate about their business, their industry and their community.
- Resilience – Business leaders get kicked in the teeth more than once but bounce back with new energy and a better understanding. Every setback is a learning experience.
- Vision – Top leaders have extraordinary vision and an understanding of where they want to take the business. They are usually several steps ahead of everyone else in the company because they see the full picture.
- SMART Goals and Clear Metrics – Successful leaders set Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Constrained Objectives and have the Metrics in place to measure for success. They “get what they measure.”
- Attention to Detail – Everything important to the company’s mission and branding is triple checked for accuracy.
- Delegation and Follow Up – Key leaders attract loyal people, give them responsibility, accountability and authority to get things done – and then they get out of the way. They “inspect what they expect,” but they do it in a supportive manner.
- Charisma and Presence – Leaders develop a keen ability to make heads turn when they enter a room. Their very presence demonstrates their leadership role.
- Sales and Marketing – Top leaders either have these skills, learn them or attract a chief sales and marketing officer who has them.
- Financial Acumen – Successful midmarket companies learned very quickly how to watch their numbers or hire someone they trust to do it.
- Decisive – They make decisions and move forward.
- Competitive – They want to win but do it fairly and honestly. They take the high road to success.
- Creative – They access the left side of their brains to visualize situations and opportunities.
- Team Builders – They attract and lead High Performance Teams.
- Understand the Value of Technology – Even “old timers” recognize the value of emerging technologies and use them for competitive advantage.
- Knowledge Seekers – They are constantly reading and learning.
- Humble –In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins cites many examples of effective leaders of larger companies who never saw the public spotlight yet delivered consistent results year after year.
I’ve been fortunate enough to work with many small and midmarket businesses, their owners, and leadership teams. No single leader or company has all the attributes or skills, but the best ones recognize and attract the talent they need to succeed at the next level of success.
In my mind, these companies and their leaders are the backbone of our country and our economy. I admire them, enjoy working with them, and respect their ability to get things done, no matter what.