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Leadership – How to Be Strategic When Tactical is 24/7

The second half of my almost 50-year business career is being spent working with the owners of closely-held B2B companies. I develop process improvement and leadership development programs. With over 200 client profiles to draw upon, a common thread connecting most operators is an overwhelmingly strong need to get involved in problems that others should be fixing. Owners that have positioned themselves as the go-to resource to all the teams’ questions creates a trap that siphons lots of potential from these enterprises.

Sure, directing an organization is a critical management responsibility. It’s the way you exercise control that has a profound effect on sustainability, efficiency, profits and, most importantly, personal satisfaction. Separating what you need to know and what you should be delegating, and to whom; can make a big difference in the success of your business and getting to that “be your own boss” vision you had when you started this journey.

control3Undertaking the challenge of process improvement will result in running smoother, hiring and retaining better workers, and serving more customers. Proactive management promises to make your life a whole lot easier, and your business more profitable too. However, this kind of change is a big commitment that will probably take a year or more to bring to life.

Consider the scope of what is required. At first, finding the discipline and making inroads will be like changing a tire on a moving vehicle. You’ll be doing your old job while you and your people are learning how to become more preemptive. Since everyone in house already has a full-time job, determine whether this kind of undertaking requires the guidance of a capable specialist.

A successfully completed SOP implementation allows you and your staff to make better, more informed decisions, while your own activities will become more strategic. As trust begins to flourish, you will confidently leave most problem solving to take place closer to where day-to-day problems occur.

Operate under control: to make your role more strategic follow these foundational steps:
• Get clear on exactly what you want your business to be, and how it should serve you, then take the time to write or revise your business plan
• One of the most important components required to operate with more enlightened controls is to create and follow an Operating Manual, an SOP (Standard Operating Procedures). Every business absolutely needs one of these to operate effectively.
• Your SOP needs to be as complete as possible. This is exactly why every successful franchise is required by federal regulation to have a Franchise Operating Manual. When everyone is taught how to follow procedures, the team will be much better prepared to handle everyday challenges as they arise
• Here’s the hard part given today’s pandemic environment: learning how to find, train, inspire and delegate. Armed with your completed operating manual, you’ll have systems for recruiting, vetting and hiring more inspired workers.

The new force for culture improvement and winning in business is transitioning from boss to leader. Inspiring your workforce requires a complete SOP covering customer finding, process memorialization, employee relations techniques and strengthening your management skills.

Steve Lauterback is a process improvement specialist in Morristown, New Jersey. Since 1999 he has been developing programs for leaders of closely-held companies to find more customers, improve internal processes, mitigate family management problems, transition their culture, and lead with greater confidence.