People have asked me a lot about the day-to-day of Lion and Panda, and what helps us as we have been growing as a small business. This is a question that I have seen many times over the years for small businesses in Dayton, as well as other areas. Many people with whom I have worked have found themselves stuck in the muck-and-mire of operations, and they never have time to do what they truly love. This problematic situation is something that anyone can easily fall into, including myself, but when you are trying to grow a business – getting lost in the details is detrimental to your business.
Now, this does not mean that details are not important; to the contrary, I am a firm believer that all aspects of your business should carefully be considered and no detail forgotten. Spending all of your time in the weeds, however, is not productive and burn out will be inevitable. It is really how you balance your business without throwing away your profits. In this world of 4-hour work weeks, productivity blogs, and inspirational stories of the 1% that hit it big with some amazing idea, it is hard to find a solution that make sense for a typical small business owner with strong ideas and a ground level budget to get started.
With everything that we do at Lion and Panda, the core question is always brought up in how does this strengthen our brand and affect the bottom line. We focus on steering the ship and empowering our team to ensure we keep moving forward. The hardest part of leading something is knowing when to let it go. Just because I can create a strategic marketing plan that will cover every element of a project doesn’t mean that I should be caught in every detail of that project. Rather, being a good leader means knowing how to turn over those elements to other people so they can handle them efficiently. This part of letting go of the control and putting your ego aside to accomplish what is most important.
Everyone with whom we work is empowered to take steps toward our business objectives and goals. My role then transfers from a powerful “doer”, to a strong leader. Running a business is much more about locating the right people, equipping them with the knowledge they need, and helping them achieve success. While this sounds like a natural transition, the action becomes harder as you move away from “I can do that quickly” into releasing others to act. We have all been in that place where finishing a quick project and taking the credit is easier then handing it to a colleague or subordinate. We want to succeed and feel the high fives of our wins, but leadership is not ticker tape parades and feeling good.
No, your time is better spent helping your team look good and ensuring that everyone is pointed toward the same success. It may be easier to do it yourself, but teaching your team these processes ensures the longevity of the ongoing success of your business.
Overall, I believe that leadership and successfully running your business is not about handing off tasks to lesser people, but letting go of control and watching others become a success. This process will benefit your team, your company, and ultimately yourself. And while this may not allow others to see your personal work, it will allow your team to respect you because they are seen as colleges and not minions.
In the end, great leadership is best shown by our ability to support and serve. Plato said it best when he said, “He who is not a good servant will not be a good master.” That mentality is what has helped Lion and Panda grow, and what I speak to when we talk about good business and strong leadership.