I originally started this blog to help other small business owners and entrepreneurs grow. I wanted to share my insight into the things I’ve learned over the last 10 years of being an entrepreneur. But, I must admit, there was a personal reason to start this blog.

I wanted a chance to reflect and better develop some of my own thoughts.

Because it’s the new year, I’m starting off by asking myself these questions every day about how I can be a better dad, better CEO, and a better leader.

Before we get into the questions I just want to lay out the key points I want you to take away from this piece.

Leading by example is not just the best way to lead, but the only way to lead.

Having the mindset of a leader is something you can have without being in a position of leadership. There are lots of differing opinions on what makes a good leader, but one of the best practices you can do every day is to ask yourself these four simple questions.

  • Would I want to work with myself?
  • What are my strengths and weaknesses?
  • Am I using my time to the best of my ability?
  • What did I do to help my team today?

Let’s break down these simple questions.

Would I want to work with myself?

This is a pretty straight forward question.

Would you want to work with yourself? Why or why not?

Now, it’s kind of difficult to look at yourself with a critical eye, but you should honestly ask yourself if you’re the type of coworker you’d want to work with.

And when examining what makes you (and me) great to work with is your attitude.

When I think of someone who I could work with, I don’t think about if we have similar interests, but I look at their attitude. For example, is this person someone who shares our company values of being happy and grateful?

When we hire, for instance, we know a lot of potential new hires are skilled. A lot of different skills come with training and education. But I’m not always concerned if the person is the most qualified, technically speaking. Technical skills can be taught, but trying to change someone who has a negative attitude, into someone who’s positive is not an easy task.

I believe people do change. It’s also important to give people chances to fix their behaviors if need be. However, if that person is constantly dragging everyone down with their mindset and attitude, then they’re probably not pleasant to be around.

No one likes working with a Debbie Downer, or someone who constantly complains about everything. It’s okay to show frustration, but if you’re a person who holds bitterness and never stops whining about your life, you’ll have a bad working relationship.

People who are willing to jump in and help, and keep going despite difficult times are the ones who won’t be laid off, and when promotions are available, their name will be on top.

The same is true for leadership roles, you need to carefully evaluate your actions and make sure you’re not being a complainer.

To quote one of my favorite movies, Facing The Giants, “Your attitude is like the aroma of your heart. If your attitude stinks, it means your heart’s not right.”

Be sure to always check your attitude.

What are my strengths and weaknesses?

Everyone has things they are good at, and things they aren’t good at.

And part of life is learning what you excel at and what you don’t.

If you can be honest with yourself about your weaknesses, you’ll be able to grow in a lot of ways. It’s vital to pursue your strengths and improve your weaknesses to succeed in business and in leadership roles.

For example, I am personally good at connecting with different types of people, and I have used that as a way of selling. From recruiting employees, getting other businesses to work with us, or getting people to work together within different divisions, that’s my strength. This is my gift.

But I’m also self-aware. I’ve learned my weakness, and I realized I don’t do well with getting stuck into one role for a long period of time, or getting stuck with a lot of details.

I like to know about and understand details, especially as a part of a larger process or project, but doing this same thing every single day isn’t my primary strength. In Traction terms, I’m a visionary, not an integrator.

A lot of people are the opposite. They want to be able to focus on one or two things and stay steady in their careers, doing one singular thing. Sometimes certain roles require you to just pound away at the same task, day after day. It’s important to do that, but I have to make sure I don’t put myself in those roles. There have been times where I had to stay focused on a specific role, and it was not my strong suit.

Knowing myself, I am fine jumping from project to project. My personality type thrives on variety, and I hate feeling stagnant. I made the decision to focus on my strengths, but also be aware of my weaknesses.

Am I using my time wisely?

This is something that I am constantly struggling with.

As a CEO, there are so many tasks that need to be addressed, and I’m always treading water to focus on them all. The best question I can ask myself: am I using my time in the best fashion?

I can be busy the whole day doing stuff, but not manage to get anything done.

That’s why identifying your priorities is important because with phone calls, emails, and meetings I can eat a whole day away and accomplish nothing. And if I’m not tracking and managing my activities, it’s even worse.

If I go into a meeting without a set topic or objective to complete, my business partners and I will waste time beating a point to death, or just catching up. That’s not wise.

Today, my role has shifted a bit. I tend to communicate more with our department heads and managers to accomplish more. The truth is I don’t need to take part in every meeting, and it’s better for the company if I don’t spend all of my day sitting in meetings I don’t add value to.

As a leader, you need to ask yourself if you’re spending your time wisely.

What can I do to help my team today?

Being a leader is about bringing the best out of your team.

Make people better, build their confidence, create a culture with happy people, and empower others, to be a leader, this is paramount in your everyday life.

To do this, your focus needs to be on helping your team be the best it can be.

Whether that be positioning your staff for success, or creating a better working environment. It’s about encouraging them.

In light of this goal, I have other leaders I trust to manage individual teams for me, and let me know if they have the tools they need to succeed.

The best way I can help my team is by working with other leaders in our company and listening to their department’s struggles. I want to make sure I’m giving them the proper resources to help them solve their problems. That might be a new technology or give people the resources they need to address their tasks.

The best outcome when asking yourself if you helped your team, or not, is to look back on your day and see if the business is in a better position now than when you started the day. Did you help your team grow? Did you help your team learn? Did you help your team solve problems? Did you help your team become better? These are important parts of leadership and good questions to ask yourself.

In leadership, identifying problems without a plan and figuring out the steps to fix it, is pointless.

You need to constantly be uncomfortable by evaluating yourself through honest introspection.

And when you do, just make sure you have Xanax handy to handle your potential response.

Some takeaway thoughts on leaderships.

On a final note, I want to really drive home the points I talked about above, so if you take away any lesson, take these points with you.

Leading by example is not just the best way to lead, but the only way to lead.

You can’t truly lead others if you’re not working on living what you want your team to do. If you’re not leading by example, you won’t see any of the followings from your team:

  • They won’t be pleasant to work with.
  • They won’t identify and grow their strengths and weaknesses.
  • They won’t use their time wisely.
  • They won’t work to support and help other team members.

You can’t expect things from those you manage that you’re not willing to do yourself.

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