At the forefront of every great business is great leadership and if you’ve been neglecting the leadership of your company then are great repercussions that you may realize. Think you’re already there? Then, here is simply some food for thought to aid in continuous improvement in your business.
About This Guest:
Todd Hendricks Jr.
President - Pioneer Industrial Systems
Todd Hendricks Jr. is the current president of Pioneer Industrial Systems, a robotics and automation company based out of the Toledo, Ohio Area. The company specializes in custom design and engineering and is currently in the process of getting the patent for a revolutionary way to handle road maintenance, particularly on freeways.
The company is not just a great source for innovation and state-of-the-art machines, though. They are also forerunners in best business practices and great leadership. That’s exactly what we brought Todd on to discuss; business leadership in today’s world and why you need to make great leadership a priority for your cleaning business.
What is the “Negativity Bias” and How Does It Affect Leadership?
As a cleaning business owner or leader, you are affected by a certain stigma, whether it’s immediately obvious or not. That stigma comes from something called the “negativity bias,” or a predisposition for people to give more attention to the bad things they see and hear about than the good.
The occurs a lot in the media. We hear a lot about what leaders do wrong, despite the fact that those mistakes do not represent the whole. This is because negative emotions have a larger and more lasting impact on the human psyche than positive emotions, according to Psychology Today.
This explains why it’s so hard for people to let go of the bad things that happen to or around them. It also explains why there’s a hesitance amongst employees to trust their bosses and why the overall media sees business leaders often as cold, too-busy, and narrow-minded individuals, when in fact that is most often not the case at all.
This negativity bias creates a lot of negative connotations around certain things and people in society, so current leaders like yourself have to work even harder to overcome them.
How to Overcome the Negativity Bias
First of all, commit to patience and realize that building a good reputation amongst the public and your employees takes time. Any changes you make will likely not have the most immediate impact and you shouldn’t expect them to.
Start by addressing your own business’s leadership and make sure that it’s the leadership you can be proud of. Good leadership itself can encourage the current trajectory of your company, but great leadership is what promotes growth, employee retention, and the longevity of your customer contracts.
Through your leadership, ensure that you’re doing right by your employees. Work from the inside out. Make sure your company is working on trust, open communication, and a unity of purpose before broadcasting your brand to the world so that those very principles can be the leading force behind what you’re known for in your community.
Defining a Great Leader
Defining what a great leader seems both monumental and yet too simple. Why? Because history is riddled with great leaders and so is this industry, but living up to them is often much easier said than done.
So, let’s boil down some of the most essential components or traits of any great leader:
It starts with communication and it ends with trust. Todd says it best when he points out that only do you need to communicate your strategy and goals, but your marketing strategy, your guidelines, your processes, your why, and everything else.
If your employees don’t know what you’re doing, what you expect them to be doing, and why it all matters, then they’re not on board, are they? So start by making sure that your leaders are excellent communicators.
You can have someone with all the apparent makings of a great employee and if they’re not consistent then they’re not reliable and chances are you will have to let them go. The same is true for your leaders and yet, inconsistent leaders are sometimes retained despite their detriment to the company and their team.
Consistency is reliability. Leaders must be consistent in the work and quality of direction they give as well as consistent in the way they manage their team members.
This does not mean taking the same approach with every team member, because great leaders also know how to work with each individual to bring out their strengths and help them grow. However, a lack of consistency comes in where employees are given certain privileges that others are not and/or discriminate against.
This can also apply to when managers sometimes focus all of their efforts and attention on their all-stars and neglect the rest of their team, also potentially stunting their growth and most definitely causing increased turnover in their ranks.
The Ability to Properly Prioritize
This seems glaringly obvious, but what can often happen is that managers can get distracted and side-lined by the busywork. They know what’s important, but they’re also extremely focused on getting ALL the work done and that’s their priority.
The problem becomes that all work is not equal work in the grand scheme of things. Some tasks and projects are more important than others and should be done first, but if a leader can’t identify and prioritize those appropriately then they’re actually slowing everyone down.
I heard a great metaphor for parenthood once that spoke directly to their heart of prioritization. The metaphor is written about in several places and even went viral on social media awhile ago, but it originally came to front the author Nora Roberts.
Work prioritization is like juggling. The more that is added, the more difficult it becomes, but the thing is that not all that you are juggling is the same. You’re juggling plastic and glass balls.
There are certain things that, when your drop the ball, it shatters and you can’t really fix the mistake. You can only try to sweep it up without stepping on the glass. Oh, and you’re still juggling everything else.
Other things are like plastic balls. If you drop them, you can eventually pick them, dust them off, and keep going. You choose which balls you drop. You choose which tasks you focus on and you may not drop the ball on anything, but if you do, you want to make sure it’s not glass.
Leadership shouldn’t be a popularity contest, but a great leader is someone that people want to follow and like, as cliche as that may sound. You don’t have to be their favorite to lead someone, but if you drive them crazy or manage to make them angry frequently then they are not going to listen to you.
It’s human nature and the reason why the most notable great leaders in history were noted as being charismatic. Charisma is defined as a “compelling attractiveness (we’re talking about behavior and personality here, not looks) or charm that can inspire devotion in others,” according to Oxford Languages.
How Do You Improve Your Leadership
Don’t worry! You don’t have to necessarily fire your entire leadership team and start over, but you do have to make some changes in order to see the changes you want.
Start by assessing your leadership and that of your team. Look at where you do well and where you can grow. Sometimes you can actually teach each other and other times you may need to outsource training initiatives.
Only once you’ve determined that someone is unwilling or unable to gain the skills necessary to lead do you need to consider employment changes.
As Todd said, you learn to be a great leader through practice, understanding, and experience. It takes time and investment, but it is vital for your business to grow and remain competitive.