Business owners are courageous people who take risks in their professional life that others will not. Why? Because they have an ability or idea and faith in the belief that it will work out. Being a business owner is not easy, personally or professionally. Your entire life is entangled with your business, not to mention you’re responsible for the livelihood of those you employ. If it was easy, everyone would do it. It takes a special type of person to take the leap into business ownership. But it is an even more extraordinary person, a leader, that can make that business grow, thrive and create generational value and worth. 

Separating your business from the herd of competitors requires building a quality team of the “right” people. This group needs to be led by an individual who is outstanding in their own right, also one who inspires, is selfless and strong. This leader understands how to choose the right people and place them in roles and with responsibilities that are congruent with the success they expect to achieve. They also are smart enough to recognize when someone isn’t a good fit and correct it, even if it means letting go of someone who is a good person but just not a good fit for the role or the mission of the company. 

In reading, Good to Great, by Jim Collins, I have learned that a lot of what instigated the good companies to become great had to do with what he referred to as “Level 5 leaders”. These extraordinary people were able to achieve storybook level goals. All that are highlighted in this book understood the importance of building a team of amazing people and empowering them with roles and responsibilities that best met their abilities. Truly letting them do what they do best and building the strategy around the abilities of each team member and their strengths. 

In my research to truly understand all of this, I looked into the levels of leadership and what differentiates each of them. They are as follows:

Level 1: Highly Capable Individual

Level 2: Contributing Team Member

Level 3: Competent Manager

Level 4: Effective Leader

Level 5: The Executive

I have learned that the overriding theme that separates the Level 5 leaders from the others is the question, “what cause do you serve”. If the motivation is to serve others and meet objectives beyond personal gain and recognition, those leaders promote the highest productivity from their teams, thus the highest level of success. Your biggest need is to establish a team of the right people, and let go of the wrong ones. Collins writes,

“First Who…Then What. We expect that good-to-great leaders would begin by setting a new vision and strategy. We found instead that they first got the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats–and then they figured out where to drive it. The old adage ‘People are your most important asset’ turns out to be wrong. People are not your most important asset. The right people are.”

The employment and hiring market is a tough terrain these days. But it is abundantly evident that if you truly want to make the leap from good to great, you have to add and subtract from your team and be sure the ones you keep have the right stuff and are empowered to use it in a role where the responsibilities are aligned with their strengths. Doing what you do best gives a deep sense of purpose and respect for your work and that can make all the difference in performance. No one said it would be easy to find these “right” people, but at the very least know what qualities you are looking for when you start!