Today on The Sales Evangelist, Don Barden shares the secret formula that allows leaders to achieve repeatable success, and why leaders should always be training. He’ll address the mistakes that leaders make and how to overcome them.
Don spent his “formative years,” about 25 of them, working on Wall Street, growing from very small deals to billion-dollar-plus international deals. He describes himself as one of many good guys that you never hear about on Wall Street.
Don calls these unique times, and he says he’s a huge fan of millennials. Unlike people who view the generation negatively, he says they are the first generation in the history of mankind to never know a limit.
They’ve always had Google, cell phones, and YouTube, and there are no limits to what’s happening in the world right now.
We’ve shifted the way we think, and that change has created a tremendous need for leaders who can guide us through this incredible time. We’re moving at exponential light speed (warp speed if you’re a Star Trek fan) and things can get out of control without strong leadership.
Because of the state of humanity right now, we need a combination of young leaders, mature leaders with decades of knowledge, and emerging leaders to guide us through the shift.
Don was part of a 5-year doctoral study that considered leadership using science and proof points. They considered economic, scientific, and behavioral considerations.
They discovered that elite leadership can be traced to a mindset of leading with your heart first. Elite leaders spent every day serving other people by opening up their hearts.
Our word “servant” derives from the Latin word which means “hero.” If you were the type of leader who served other people, you were truly a hero. In Greek, it meant that you professed your love of serving people.
These leaders prioritize serving people, and they have a skill or a craft that they have honed over many years. The net result is that when they lead with their hearts, their businesses do well, and their people willingly follow them because they want to be around that mindset.
Millennials who find themselves looking to learn about elite leadership should begin by looking to people who are older than them who have been leaders before.
Secondly, millennials are the most giving, caring, and generous generation we’ve seen in a long time. They want to give back socially, personally, and professionally for all the right reasons.
They want to give back and serve, so if you can help them be good, and if you can help them get there faster than they would on their own, you’ve got the ingredients for what leadership is all about.
For young leaders, just raise your hand and ask for help. For experienced leaders, be willing to help.
The other side of the coin is that, while you’re learning, you have to be yourself.
Although people will mentor you and train you, you have to be yourself. You have skillsets and a unique way of thinking that your company needs.
Don sold a company last week to a group that he felt could take it to a level beyond what he could do. After the sale, the new owners came to him and said they didn’t need his help anymore.
He considered that a great compliment.
He had created a culture of young, bright people that he had mentored for years. His team had helped them grow to the point that their own skillsets were sufficient to run the company without management.
He set guardrails, standards, missions, and objectives, and then gave his people room to operate.
His approach was this: You know the mission. You’re smarter than me. We’ll stay out of your way unless you’re drifting. You go be you.
Create the right environment to mentor and guide millennials, but don’t try to teach them how to be exactly like you.
Never stop training. Leadership is all about training, and then going back to train some more even when you think you’re done because there’s so much information out there.
Training can take so many different forms, from a book club to a formal training.
The biggest mistake people make is to stop training.
Don is associated with the U.S. Army Rangers, who have made a career choice to serve other people at a level beyond what most people can comprehend. He notes that 99 percent of their lives are built around training, and that’s why they are so good.
When Don was seeking a title for his study, his wife suggested The Perfect Plan, so he set out to discover exactly what “perfect” meant.
The word perfect means “always becoming,” in other words always getting better. It means you aren’t done, and you’re openly becoming something greater.
At the end of the study, Don’s group asked average people to rate themselves on a scale of 1-10, and the average was 8. The elite performers rated themselves at an average of 3.5.
The group thought maybe the numbers were driven by humility, but they discovered that the elite leaders weren’t rating themselves against everyone else. They were rating themselves against their full, God-given potential.
Although we’ll never reach our full God-given potential, the mindset of these leaders was that they were always trying to become better.
Hire the right people
When you hire the right people, you aren’t hiring people because you have hope in them, or you feel sorry for them, or you just like them.
You have to hire people that you can guide and mentor, but they also have to have the right skill set. You have to hire for the position.
Get the right people and then create a culture that allows them to thrive.
The business world requires a different set of disciplines, so these great leaders hire the right people and then create the right culture, and then they get out of the way.
Players get you to the playoffs, but coaches win championships. So if you’re going to be a leader, you’re going to be a coach, but you have to have the right players. Then you have to train them and give them the environment and the mission and the direction they need.
“Secret Formula” episode resources
Connect with Don via email Don@dwbarden.com.
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