WashingtonExec reached out to area executives to gain insight and share local “secrets to success” stories. Today’s “secret sauce” is from Marissa Levin, CEO and founder of Information Experts, as well as the recent founder of Successful Culture.
How to build extraordinary organizations and be a great leader
In my 16 years of business building, I’ve picked up a few strategies to help me develop strong leadership skills.
1. Focus. Multi-tasking is the death of productivity. I’ve finally learned to compartmentalize my tasks. I itemize what I need to accomplish, and complete them one at a time. I’ve learned that it’s better to do one thing really well at a time, then to do 5 things half-way at a time.
2. Commitment to culture. Keeping your employees engaged and happy is an essential strategy for a successful organization. This is why I launched Successful Culture (www.successfulculture.com) – to help other leaders create extraordinary organizations that attract and keep extraordinary people.
3. Know Your Strengths and Release Your Weaknesses. I’ve learned the importance of releasing control and delegating your weaknesses. When a leader can identify his/her strengths and release the rest to others, the entire organization benefits. I’m a great visionary but a terrible manager. I can envision all that needs to be done to move us from point A to point Z, but I am not an implementer. I’m an extraordinary people connector and I despise operations. The business operates much better when I don’t hover. I leave the day-to-day operations to people who thrive in the weeds and can carry out my vision through clearly defined processes, while I focus on strategic direction.
4. Surrounding yourself with an advisory dream team and mentors – and listening to them. I’ve surrounded myself with successful geniuses, and people who have accomplished what I want to accomplish. I seek their advice often, and I listen to them. In addition to helping me build an exceptional infrastructure, my advisors have opened doors for me that I could never open on my own, and h ave directly contributed to our growth.
5. That leads me to another strategy… Consider all possibilities. We often shut out people who we think at the outset may not lead to a mutually rewarding relationship. The truth is, we have no way of predicting the people, events, or experiences that will occur on our journeys. While I know that crosses over into my spiritual practices, it is true. We must always be open to all possibilities.
My other strategies focus on The Four Agreements, written by Don Miguel Ruiz.
6. Be Impeccable with Your Word. This applies to the words you use against yourself and others. Our Word is our most powerful tool. It can create a domino effect of outcomes. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth, and understand its power and impact.
7. Don’t Take Anything Personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you can no longer be the victim of needless suffering.
8. Don’t Make Assumptions. When you make assumptions, you are thinking that you know all of the answers, and how other think. Find the courage to ask questions and express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can.
9. Always Do Your Best. Your best is going to change from moment to moment. It will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick; stressed as opposed to calm. Under any circumstance, simply do your best and you will avoid self-judgment and regret.
10. And of course, as leaders, we should always remember that we are in a position of Service. We are there to serve our customers and our employees. We need to give our employees the knowledge, education, tools, and skills to pursue their passions, and then get out of the way. Leadership is never about us – the CEO. It is all about others.
11. Finally, I am all about empowerment – but the flip side of empowerment is accountability. You can not give someone unlimited freedom without the responsibility of accountability. Freedom is a privilege that comes with strings attached. Conversely, you can’t expect accountability from an employee who is shackled. They need room to stretch, grow, experiment, and breathe. But you have a right to expect results.