A rising tide lifts all ships. This is a profound statement. Water is an extremely important commodity in history. During the earlier times, it was used as the main mode of long-distance transportation. It was used to grow food. A place with abundant, clear, running water is a great place to build an empire.
The tides are rising. I do believe that every entrepreneur in our country can feel this. We feel it at SEO Hacker.
And now that the tides have risen, we have realized that we lack captains in our fleet. Leaders.
You see, we are a service-based, knowledge and technology driven organization. This means we have no inventory but a lot of manpower. Smart, dynamic people with diversified backgrounds and outlooks in life.
Growing from 30 people last 2018 to 51 people this 2019 does not sound like a lot. But that is a 42% growth. Of course, we only hire when there is a need because of increasing number of projects and clients.
To save money and to protect our culture, we are hiring mostly fresh graduates or people with not much work experience. Our initial offer in salary is also not big as we desire to hire people with a driven mission – not mercenaries who are after a high salary.
We improved our hiring process extensively to weed out people who will not fit our culture. Now that we people who are a great cultural fit working alongside us, we thought that was it. We thought that we can stop there because that was what we needed and nothing more.
We were dead wrong.
What we had were great people but not enough leaders. The people in our team were learning so much and had a colossal amount of growth in terms of their work, career and knowledge in digital marketing. However, they sorely needed guidance to grow more in terms of professionalism, maturity, and loyalty.
2019 was the year I planned to get some of my life back. It has been a very good year by God’s grace and wisdom.
Now I realize that 2020 is the year that we need to raise leaders.
I have been a student of leadership, management and entrepreneurship for as long as I can remember. I am also a teacher.
So now the looming question in my mind is: How can I commit to teach leadership to people in my team who really want to step up and become well-intentioned, sacrificial and competent leaders?
You see leadership is not a reward, it is a responsibility. People who simply want more pay and recognition should not step up into leadership roles. We would rather just give them more pay and recognition and have them stay where they are than put them in positions of leadership.
In leadership, the heart to serve has to be there. It has to be of more importance than the heart to harvest for one’s own benefit.
Serving other people does not mean being subservient to them. When you reprimand others or tell other people off, that is a form of service. When you eat packed lunch with your team members, that is a form of service. When you train someone to succeed you in your operational role, that is a form of service.
A lot of people today when bumped up into leadership roles feel like it is a reward for their hard work. And so they avoid work that seems below them because it seems silly to them. Or they push their weight around others because of their position (A.K.A. power-tripping). This is horrible and is mostly why people who are not servant-leaders at heart should not be put in leadership roles.
All these things in consideration, leadership is not instinctively developed through work. It must be studied, and then applied and so it is really learned.
I have read a handful of books about leadership. Coupled with the other books I have read about focus, entrepreneurship, management, and other business psychology concepts, I have dedicated 2020 to teaching these things to potential leaders in our team.
2020 is the year we have become a leadership institute that happens to be great at digital marketing and SEO.
Organizational Health is one of the most important things in doing business. I have personally experienced this. Investing and believing in people – the right people – is the only way that you will ever have a great company that you truly enjoy.
So how do you improve your organizational health? And how do you know if your organization is not healthy?
The first signs that your organization is not healthy are:
- Office Politics
- Low Productivity
- Blurred Communication
- Unresolved Conflict
- Transparency is minimal
- Leadership is not cohesive
If one or more of this is present in your organization, you have an unhealthy organization and you need help in transforming it.
Note: If you think you need a consultant to help you in any one of these, please do get in touch with me for the solution.
A healthy organization has these things:
- Minimal Politics
- Minimal Confusion
- High Morale
- High Productivity
- Low Turnover
One of the ways you can change the health of your organization is by being intentional with your company culture. Unfortunately, there is no one easy way to do this. The good news is, there is a systematic way to tackle it but you have to get your hands messy.
You have to dig deep in the mud of people’s hearts.
You see, the problem of most executives and managers today, is the thought that dealing with the emotions of people in the company is beneath them. That office drama and conflict or disagreements (however healthy) is beneath them – or is something that should be resolved by itself.
The truth is, these things will not be automatically resolved. We have to get down on our knees, get our hands in the mud, and cultivate a healthy organization through intentionally shaping the company culture.
Patrick Lencioni says that company culture is like faith.
There is a prescribed way to live life. It’s all in the Bible. And it requires daily discipline. However people think that it’s so simple that they tell themselves “There must be another way.”
Then they go ahead and try what they think will work – but they end up having a miserable life.
There is a prescribed way to impact the organization to a healthier degree. Have a daily discipline to shape your company culture intentionally. However, it seems so simple that executives and managers tell themselves that there must be another way.
So they slap on an ERP or some cutting-edge software or working standard in place – thinking that it’s a one-time set and forget setup that will make everything better.
They do what they think will work – but it ends up making the organization worse.
Organizational health is not about the processes, or systems or software or ways of working. It’s all about the heart of the people. How much of their heart at work is aligned to the vision of the company.
I was visited by a team from Indigitous, a global community that engages with ideas and each other to advance God’s Kingdom through Innovation.
As I have always put God first in everything I do, they take it a step further by encouraging and fostering a growing community to spread the word of the Lord.
In this podcast, we will be discussing what my best practices are in leading a team of millennials and the role of innovation in propagating the word of God.
First thing’s first.
I believe that we millennials might be the most complex group of people within the workforce.
We millennials are not like any of the previous generations when it comes to work.
We are very passionate individuals.
We say what we think and believe is true and we argue about our perspectives with people who have a different point of view.
Take a look at social media platforms where some strong-willed millennials make a stand whenever their beliefs are being targeted. These Social Justice Warriors are likely to defend their beliefs to the very end.
What happens when those beliefs that we are so adamant to defend and protect are wrong? What if they are not anchored in a good principle? What if it does not have any good moral standard?
Millennials are incredibly passionate to the point where it can possibly hurt them. It will be difficult to change their thoughts and opinions on something that they truly think is right.
It’s because of this that the notion that millennials are believed to be entitled—a statement that I personally think is not absolute.
Honestly, there will always be those who feel as if they deserve to be spoon-fed everything on a silver platter.
That being said, there are more millennials who understand the value of hard work and grit. These people celebrate every little thing and are satisfied with small, consistent growth.
Start with Indoctrination
As soon as millennials join your team, you should train them immediately. Have an onboarding process that is fashioned for millennials.
In SEO Hacker (Arguably the best SEO company in the Philippines), we have a boot camp where we tell them our history.
They learn about how the company was founded, how we had no investors to start, and even the fact that the first-ever office was just in the attic of my parent’s house. We inform them that we started out at the bottom and we slowly but surely grew thanks to my team’s continuous and rigorous grind.
All new hires will also be introduced to our core values. I encourage my team to embody them as much as possible. We provide them with all of the information that is necessary to become part of our team.
You should not let them fall stagnant. You should dictate the pace. Otherwise, the entitled will remain entitled, and the good ones might become entitled.
As a leader, it’s your job to make sure that they hit the ground running. And one of the ways for you to do that is to implement an onboarding process that shows the new hires how things are done in the company—and how they should do their tasks while they work with us.
Everything needs to be clear from the get-go.
Improve Your Hiring Process
One of the best ways to handle millennials is to actively choose only the good ones through a strict hiring process. When your team is already filled with millennials who have the same goals and perspectives as you, it will make handling them incredibly easier.
We at SEO Hacker have a six-step hiring process that we have designed to filter out the good from the crazy. This is something that takes inspiration from the great Dave Ramsey.
Of course, it’s not foolproof. It’s not guaranteed to work 100% of the time.
For every 50 applicants that we have, only five, maybe even less, finish the hiring process.
Those who do, will in no doubt be qualified to be part of the team. They’ll also feel good about themselves because they passed such an arduous procedure.
That being said, it does have its downsides. When the team is in dire need of a new team member, it can take a while before that void is filled. This is the reason we always have people in our pipeline.
This model is a direct result of one of our core values: Experimentation. It dictates one thing—that is to expect changes.
In general, people dislike change. Wherever they are at the moment, when you change something that impacts them negatively, the will dislike it—even if in the long term, it’s going to benefit them exponentially.
The implementation of the hiring process itself is a great example. When I integrated this six-step hiring process, some of my team leaders complained about its length—that because of it, we are having a hard time being undermanned.
To which I argued that if we were to revert to the old hiring process, we risk letting in multiple turkeys that are either just looking to get paid, or to negatively affect the company before we can get one single good hire.
My team knows how it feels to work with mediocrity—and it’s not something that everyone likes. This was enough to persuade them to try out the new method.
Interview even Grass Roots Positions
It’s important that you interview every new hire because they all have a tremendous impact on the chemistry of your team.
Bear in mind that even those in grassroots positions are capable of having leadership skills. They can be influential in a positive and negative light.
When they become that negative influence (someone that has different moralities and values than yours and your company), that’s when things can go wrong.
The example that I always use in my workshops is lemonade.
What if I offered you a glass of lemonade that is not only delicious but also has the power to make you younger again. The only catch is that there might be one drop of rat piss in it.
Will you still take it?
You won’t right?
Now put that in the context of your team. Even if you already have the right people with the same goals, values, and perspectives, just one person with a different mindset can sway the dynamic of the whole company.
You need to do your best in keeping the crazy ones out, those that might become the poison that slowly destroys your company from within.
When a crazy person gets through, who’s fault will it be?
It will be my fault. No one else but me, because I’m the one that let them through even though I am the last and final step.
The number one mistake in hiring is that we don’t take enough time.
Lastly, you should always remember to pray. Pray whenever you have to handle your team. Sometimes all you need is the guidance of the Lord to solve your problems.
The team in Indigitous, for example, admits that their grassroots members don’t necessarily go through the head of the team. Sometimes, they let their project managers decide whether or not the person will be hired.
The only thing that they do is to pray every day that they get the right people to join their team.
Remember, even grassroots members are capable of influencing the team however, it’s easier to pull people down rather than to push them up the ladder.
Because of this, you need to have protection against the things that might result from them.
You need to have protection mechanisms to keep people from stealing time and money. You have to make sure you’re hiring the right people; and lastly, your hires should hit the ground running.
Knowing When to Let Go.
Legally speaking, you have to provide three notices to explain that the offense that they made can lead to termination—this is most minor misbehaviors.
But for things such as drug use, stealing, murder, and their equal, they’re automatically punishable through termination.
As a head of a company, I will never want to fire someone without any traction—nobody wants to do that.
It’s just that when someone continues on repeating their wrongdoings, then you’ll have all you need to legally fire them.
There are two kinds of mistakes that I do not allow in SEO Hacker:
Repeated Mistakes; and
Repeated mistakes are the ones that a person keeps doing even after I’ve told them about it. I don’t understand when people make the same mistake more than once—it’s just absurd how some people don’t learn from their mistakes.
Fatal Mistakes, on the other hand, are those that make us lose a client. Even just losing one account will hurt the business. Because of this mistake, you would have wounded everyone in the team.
When these are made, we immediately provide a notice to explain.
However, I will never give a notice of explanation for the sole purpose of wanting to terminate someone. I will only give it when the need arises.
Technically, the notice will only be used when you need to go to court—which is something that you rarely to do.
One example is when a former employee thinks that they didn’t deserve to be fired and want to be reinstated. The explanations gathered through the notice will be given to the labor arbiter which will be used to see if the arguments of the former employee are valid.
It is every leader’s due diligence as the head of your company to give team members that showing signs of misbehavior a notice of explanation.
The Role of Innovation in Proclaiming the Word of God
We are doing a lot of good things in terms of technological advancements.
Technology itself is a tool to connect people. This is the most obvious advantage.
We use it to facilitate communication over a wide area. But the message that you share is still human because it comes from you. You cannot use software to do that.
At its core, technology is just a means for us to be able to communicate better with other people.
Remember the times of Apostle Paul. He had to travel to Macedonia, Ephesus, and Rome just to spread the word of God. He took weeks, months to get to these places. He spent a considerable amount of time riding boats just to evangelize a number of people.
Now imagine if the Apostle Paul was alive now. How many people would he have been able to reach using the technology that we have today?
It’s virtually unbelievable.
The biggest use of technology is to communicate to the globe.
This podcast is an example. It’s been recorded, put into writing, and made accessible to anyone who wants to listen or read to it.
Where should Church Leaders Start?
You can start out by recording one of your own sermons or writing about the word of God and publish in a blog.
It highly depends on the amount of time you’re willing to commit to transitioning the Gospel to the Internet.
If you’re lacking time, you can choose to focus on recording your sermon through video or audio only, then you can publish it as a video, or a podcast. then if you prefer to write about God, then you can create your own blog for it.
It depends on your preferred way of expressing your love for the Lord.
What is Indigitous and How Important is it in the world today?
I think that this kind of ministry is going to be the pacesetter—just like Henry Ford.
Many people said that without Henry Ford, we would not have cars today, just faster horses.
If he listened to the rest of the world, if he listened to public voice and opinion, any kind of automobile will not exist.
It’s these kinds of people that join Indigitous—they are the Henry Fords. They are the ones that don’t have to listen to what the public says, rather continuously creates solutions on their own. They do what they think is right.
They make what other people don’t know what they want yet.
This was how the iPod was invented. This was how the iPhone was invented. During the time, people never believed that what Steve Jobs was proposing was something that the customer wanted.
The backlash he received didn’t stop Steve Jobs. He believed that he knew what the customers wanted way before the customers knew that they wanted it.
These are the people that we need today.
Especially in the ministry. It is rare for people like these to be part of them. Those who fully develop their time, talent, effort, and mind in furthering the kingdom of God.
One thing is for certain. There is a huge demand for innovators, and they get paid very well. So in an age where innovators will almost always be paid well, why would they bother working in the ministry?
I personally commend the people who choose the higher path and use their talents and skills in innovation to proclaim God’s grace to the world.
Becoming the Right One
In the context of becoming the right partner I life, the first thing that you need is already given.
“Seek first God’s Kingdom in all of its righteousness and all of these things will be added to you as well.”
When God says “all these things” that includes your relationships and love life.
If you are able to put God first in your life—to actually practice God’s words and commandments, then all the other things will follow.
“Do not let this book of the law depart from your mouth. Meditate on it day and night so that you may be careful to do everything that is written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
The problem is that for most people, to be successful is to have a positive love life.
How can you be prosperous if you’re not following the verse mentioned above?
A person that doesn’t read the bible doesn’t pray, and doesn’t listen to the Lord cannot say that they put God First.
If you really believe that the Bible is God’s word, then why don’t you read it?
My point here is that before you become the right one and find the right one, you must have a relationship with the perfect one, which is God.
Having a relationship with God will draw you to become the right one.
To me, it’s very simple.
If you can’t love a perfect being that won’t meddle with you, that won’t irritate you, that won’t sulk because of you, you can’t love at all.
Loving God is very simple. You pray, you obey His Word, you read His word. That’s it.
Nothing more, nothing less.
Loving the Lord will cost you nothing but time—which is integral in every relationship.
If you cannot love a perfect being such as God, don’t even think about loving someone imperfect. Because you will only be dissatisfied with it.
My definition of success is doing something that you love to do while glorifying God. That encapsulates all aspects of my life, from work to my love life.
To me, religion itself doesn’t matter, as long as you read the bible, which is God’s word.
Join us in uncovering the growth journey of the Marvin Germo. Here we talk about his learnings, his mentors, and his unique mindset of ignoring positive and negative criticism. Before you think that this is bad, listen in on what It really means in this podcast!
Part of Marvin’s growth journey involved reading books in the past. But since in-demand knowledge is incredibly accessible with YouTube, Spotify, and other streaming services, he tends to take advantage of those.
Currently, Marvin tends to look for various economic reports to study like a trade war and its impact on the U.S. or China. In-demand knowledge helps him absorb the wisdom that he wants to get on a certain day.
He doesn’t look for books or audiobooks that can sometimes give you insights on a broad scale, instead, Marvin wants to learn things at his own pace, so he only looks for things that he wants to learn at any given day. He would rather take his time to research on the things he wants to understand.
Most of the time, Marvin watches speeches and interviews of the people that he follows, Mark Cuban, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Kevin O’Leary, etc.
He also enjoys the show Shark Tank, because it’s not only the pitches that he sees but the business philosophies of the people in the show—which to Marvin, can bring tremendous amounts of insights.
The start of Marvin’s journey to success started slow and steady. Right after he graduated, he went out and interviewed different businesspeople and executives. He just asked them for their time, sometimes just for coffee, and he’d have a whole list of questions at the ready.
Marvin also shares that the biggest mistake of a lot of people is that they go to their rich relatives or friends asking for money—and that’s something that you should never do.
Instead, go to your rich relatives, and ask them how they pulled it off.
The money you asked from them will be gone in a matter of time, but the wisdom that they’ll give you will last a lifetime.
Marvin emphasized the importance of trying to learn from the success and failures of your friends and family, particularly the ones that have made it big.
Steve Jobs was an innovator that liked to challenge the status quo, and he is someone that you rarely see nowadays. For Marvin, Apple is not as good as before solely because Steve Jobs is no longer there. Marvin loved Steve Job’s foresight—the fact that he thought of things that were decades ahead of his competition, is something that Marvin admired.
Steve Jobs may not be an investor, like Marvin, but he is still an incredible inspiration. The way he thinks, and the way he does things, were amazing.
That being said, Marvin believes he has a similar mindset with Mark Cuban because he’s a businessman, a great investor, a public speaker, and a basketball fan. In some cases, they have very similar likes and routines.
A lot of people questioned Marvin’s choice to not pursue a career in Engineering. For those people who thought he was wasting opportunities, he just told them that it’s much more of a waste if you do something that will eat you up every single day. That’s why Marvin chose to do something different and risky. Something that was harder, but gave me happiness.
Different people find happiness in different places. Some people find joy in working 8 hours a day and earning six figures, while others just want to grow and expand their business.
For Marvin, social media somehow counteracts this because most people compare their lives to others, and when you compare there is almost always a clear winner and loser.
In Marvin’s words:
“The moment you start comparing yourself with others is when you’ll start becoming jealous, or boastful.
The best thing that you can do is to know what you’re supposed to do, know what you’re calling is, know what your plans and goals are, and don’t compare it with other people.”
Marvin has learned to ignore what other people have to say about him—both the positive and the negative. He believes that too much positive feedback can lead to complacency, while even just one negative comment can destroy a person’s dream.
It’s very interesting how people in the world are more likely to spread negativity than positivity.
As Marvin said, when there’s a whiteboard that has a small dot on it, people will focus on the dot instead of the whiteboard.
People seem to be wired to be more negative instead of providing a positive remark.
Marvin believes that a lot of people think that social media is destroying our ecosystem by letting people become bad.
But what people don’t know is that social media doesn’t change people—it just exposes who you truly are.
Social media provides a platform for people to say things while being under a veil.
To some extent, I think this will make it fairly easier to spot when a person is ranting about their work, or about some other facet of their lives. However, it also makes it so that more and more people become aware of what they’re doing.
The same goes for influencers or anyone that has a social media following. No matter how bad your day gets, when someone recognizes you, you have this obligation to be as nice as you can because it can have a massive effect on your online reputation.
The success of Robert’s business can be attributed to his leadership style and the competence of his team. The fact that he is leading them on, instead of simply managing them is what made the difference.
For Robert, management is more about monitoring the small details, so that the team can continue to function, while leadership is about moving things forward.
Managers make sure that the micro-factors that will ensure that things will go the way they should be will happen.
He believes that he isn’t a good manager because he is not detail-oriented enough to check on the smaller things. And I agree because Robert is better as a leader.
Now that he is in a leadership position, Robert has more time dedicated to helping the business grow, to help him grow as a leader—all for the sake of growing the company.
His newest sales manager, Ron has been working with him for over four years. He is a millennial, and to me, this is very interesting because having them choose to stay is not an easy thing to do.
Rob says one of the things that he thinks makes them choose to stay is the chemistry that the team, as a whole has. He mentions that even just one person that has a negative perspective within the company can ruin everything, and so making sure that everyone is happy with their work is crucial.
He also talks about himself being a boss that is more of a friend rather than an authoritative figure
Robert further mentions how important prayers are to his work. He always prays for all of his team. To him, prayer is very important. He prays even during the time when he decides to get a new hire.
The business he leads is small, so Robert limits hiring since it would mean more funding. And besides, he only hires when the need arises, which doesn’t happen often.
In fact, his business doesn’t have a concrete hiring process yet. The whole thing is composed of just two interviews. One with the sales manager and another with him.
Interestingly enough, they only source applicants through Facebook, and they’ve been pretty successful in getting good hires from there.
That being said, he does admit that his process isn’t exactly a good one. Rather it needs a lot of improvement because Robert has recently witnessed what happens when he makes a wrong decision in hiring a person.
There was one employee that was very selfish and self-centered. He was someone that didn’t have any empathy, and it felt like his vision was different from the company’s.
As Robert mentioned, these were what he considered as red flags when hiring. However, sometimes, he still needs to hire them due to a few special conditions.
In my opinion, having a good HR manager is a big thing and I can say that it really helped better my company as well.
It helped clarify things such as the probationary period, a few other policies, and many more.
In SEO Hacker, we have a few of our own unique policies. Even probationary employees have government benefits, and the longer they stay, the more benefits they’ll be able to unlock.
This is the advantage of having a primarily millennial team, the whole system is dynamic, and we go with what we think works for us.
Another thing that makes working with and leading a team is that you can easily provide them with wisdom to grow on their own.
As the CEO of Revultron Distributors, Robert defines a good leader as someone who can influence a group of people to a certain directive of the leader.
Meaning if you can persuade people, then you’re technically already a good leader.
He is also someone who continuously strives to grow just like how Robert looked to equip himself with knowledge and strategies to help him manage the business that his father left him with.
Roberts growth journey is composed primarily of reading books, going to seminars, and listening to podcasts. He also expands his growth journey to his team members when given the chance.
He explains that he usually gives them authority, help them establish authority over other team members. All of this through developing a relationship based on trust. He does not micromanage so as to let them develop their own leadership style.
He also respects the learning curve of his team. Especially when it comes to learning from their mistakes.
Robert does mentorship through evaluations of his team members actions. He coaches them after the fact.
His perspective on mistakes is similar to my own. In SEO Hacker, there are only two kinds of mistakes that I do not and will not tolerate.
The first one being repeated mistakes. These are absurd. It means you either didn’t learn from the first time you made a mistake, or you didn’t count it as one.
The second one is fatal mistakes. These are the ones that make you lose a client or wound a team member.
Any other kind of mistake is allowed because it’s fine to experiment as it’s one of our core values.
You can say that giving authority basically means you’re allowing people to make mistakes in the spirit of getting better in the future. Aside from that, Robert gradually lets his leaders-in-training direct their own paths.
Another way to define a good leader is that they have a clear vision. Explaining the vision, and showing it in the goals and the efforts of the company. Use the momentum that you already have in order to push things harder.
Robert is a leader that isn’t just about the results. He looks for client relationship developments and management. Because of this, he has a pre-call and post-call with his agents.
These pre- and post- calls happen solely to align everyone in their goals. During pre-call, the goals are reiterated, and during the post-call, the agents review what has happened with their clients. It ensures unity overall.
It’s all about giving would-be leaders the opportunity to bloom and experiment on their own.
I want to reiterate the importance of having a clear, realistic vision. When a person loses his vision, they’ll go blind and thus, have a hard time navigating. The same goes for businesses. When they have no vision, they have nowhere to go. When they have muddied vision, it will be difficult to reach their destination. But when they have a vision that is clear and distinct, you’ll have an easier time achieving it.
Robert’s leadership has helped his company experienced a 34% growth in sales volume in a span of two years. That’s almost doubling the operations of his company in that same time.
What does it mean to be a manager? The most simplistic explanation is: making decisions. A manager makes decisions in a company. Being the CEO, I’m expected to be the topmost manager of SEO Hacker. However behind every decision there’s another, more abstract decision to be made – are you gonna be a boss or a leader?
The Three E’s of Leadership
I gave a talk not so long ago about the three E’s of leadership to students of CALABARZON. The talk was held at the UP Los Banos campus – a very far off place from where I live, especially due to the traffic. It’s my latest Powerpoint deck. As it happens, it also got featured on the homepage of Slideshare.net for a good amount of time. Here’s the Powerpoint deck:
If you noticed, towards the end, at slide 116, there’s a picture that depicts what a boss and a leader is like. A boss manages from behind while a leader does most of the work at the forefront.
I’ve been trying by God’s great grace, to be a leader. To do most of the work at the forefront – far beyond what any other single individual in my team is doing. I do all the sales and field work in my team. I go to clients, manage expectations, keep communication lines open and maintain a good relationship with them. I still blog once in a while in SEO Hacker. I’m still hands-on with hiring new people being the final interview process. I do all the internal accounting, financing, business development, and so on and so forth.
It’s a lot to take in considering I’m doing all that and more in my new startup, a WordPress Survey Tool named Qeryz. But it’s the way I believe a leader should go in starting up a company and forming an effective team. If I’m not doing most of the work, what reason do my teammates have to work? What would their inspiration be? Seeing their leader slack off because they are carrying the weight is not a pretty sight – and is, in fact a discouragement.
Being a leader means more than just doing all the work. It means training people. Investing in them. Trusting them – sometimes to the point of heartbreak.
Not a Pretty Sight
Just recently, I had a bike ride at SM Mall of Asia with one of my clients. He is the president of Toyota Quezon Avenue branch. A man that I deeply respect as I get to know him more. On the way home after the 2 hour non-stop bike ride, I told him about how happy I was training another person to help me out in sales. He stopped me right along the tracks and told me “Sean, you know, your people will disappoint you. You have to be very careful especially with people you put in sales.”
I looked at him and kind of asked him “Why?” with how I stared. He went on to tell me about a good friend of his and how this guy was betrayed by one of his closest employees. Someone he trusted a lot. Someone who was in sales and accounts management. Then he told me how the employee started up a company exactly like his friend’s and went on to take his friend’s clients one by one.
Today, they have an open case in court and they are suing each other. It’s not a pretty sight.
I listened intently but I shrugged it off. “My team’s not like that.”, I thought. And I really believed that with all my heart.
Sad to say he was right. Shortly after, I received one of the most disappointing emails I’ve received in a long time.
My sales person whom I was training for quite some time now, resigned. Now, while the resignation is nowhere near what my client’s friend went through, it’s still a disappointment since this person is the first sales person I have ever trained. And it’s really not easy to train in sales especially in SEO Hacker.
I’m open to training only homegrown teammates who have the knack of selling – and I take them with me to live presentations, even paying for their commute to the client and back.
Now, that person is quitting. And to top it all off, it’s without a 30-day notice. It’s an immediate resignation without sufficient explanation. An extremely vague, disappointing, and not to mention (let’s call a spade, a spade) disrespectful thing to do.
Two Abstract Choices
Yeah it hurts – especially after you’ve given and given and trained that person and that person just up and left without even going out on the field yet.
So now I’m faced with the two abstract decisions of any well-meaning CEO. Am I going to be a boss? Or am I going to be a leader?
A boss would rant to the team. Make some threats maybe. Would make changes in the system so this could be prevented. Would blacklist that person. Would do some things to make oneself feel better.
A leader would shut up, take it all in, and still choose to trust the team and trust the next person who will want to take on the sales mantle. A leader would ingest the disappointment and turn it around to something good – a lesson learned perhaps.
I’ve been faced with this decision before.
And you know what? Every single time, I would choose to be a leader.
I hope you would too.
Jim Collins’ books have shed a lot of light for me with regards to leadership and building a lasting great company. There were some chapters in there about leadership and how visionary leaders come and go and how charisma has little to do with building a lasting great company.
It just so happens that I consider my leadership style to be such – charismatic and visionary. Some of my mentors tell me the same. The first investors I presented to also thought the same thing. It even came to a point that they asked the question “So what if you get hit by a bus and you die… what happens to the company?”
In my mind, being a Charismatic, Visionary Leader was starting to become a negative. Perhaps this entry is to help remind me that it isn’t. I thought about it and reflected on what’s happening at SEO Hacker and here are some of my insights.
Let’s first clarify my idea of a Charismatic, Visionary Leader (CVL)
Someone who can influence people to follow him and carry on whatever mission he is embarking on as he explains the purpose and vision to them. He is someone who can win others to his cause and live up to his claims and work harder than any single individual in the team.
He is able to stick to the three E’s of leadership and has an obvious number of followers
So let’s move forward with how a Charismatic, visionary leader makes it easier to build a lasting great company.
Charismatic, Visionary Leadership, Paves the Way
Let’s face it – a person with charisma is easy to fall for in sales. Whether the person is selling snake-oil or he’s selling gold, you just can’t help but admire the charisma of a person who is ‘full of it’. And I’m saying this in all honesty and positivity. Charisma is a huge asset for a salesperson and what better way to win the hearts and minds of your followers than to be able to sell your vision to them each and every time?
A charismatic leader is able to pour out his vision to his followers in the most effective way. This drives and inspires them to do more, do better and become whatever the purpose of their profession calls them to be.
Charismatic, Visionary Leadership Shapes the company DNA
Whether we like it or not, a charismatic, visionary leader is someone who is able to most powerfully influence the company DNA. Because you are able to share and pour out your vision to others and win them to your cause, you are able to shape the personality of the company. The DNA. What makes everything tick.
I’ve seen it happen in companies again and again and again. Not the least of which in SEO Hacker.
Charismatic, Visionary Leadership is the Seed of the Team Culture
Everyone agrees that team culture is one of the most important things in a company. When you create an environment for the team to reveal who it really is and it begins to influence the way things work and captivate new hires – that is a powerful thing.
Being able to win others and pour out your vision effectively to the team influences them towards you and how you work, think, talk, deal with clients and solve problems. This is a contagious effect and it will spread out to the other individuals in the team – creating a team culture that is rooted in who you are as a CVL.
Note to myself: It is simply so much easier to build a team, and hence, build a company with a charismatic, visionary leader.