Mark Cuban is an American businessman and investor, probably best known for his place on the prime-time TV show, “Shark Tank”. He was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to a Jewish middle-class family and his first step on the road to successful businessman was selling garbage bags to raise money for an expensive pair of basketball shoes.
From there, during his 57 years of life, he came to own NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, Magnolia Pictures, and Landmark Theatres. He and is also the chairman of the HDTV cable network AXS TV, where he has been a “shark” investor on the prime-time TV show Shark Tank for 3 seasons already, offering advice to young investors, and a piece of his success to the best of them.
Learn to Sell
The first thing young entrepreneurs should learn, according to Mark Cuban, is to sell their products, whatever those are. In business, you are always selling to someone, from your employees to your investors and clients. Put yourself in the shoes of your clients and do your best to have your products solve their problems.
“Don’t start a company unless it’s an obsession and something you love”, is a quote many of the Shark Tank young entrepreneur-contestants have heard. Always work as hard as you can to stay ahead of your competitors and do not cut any corners. Especially since not too many people start businesses fully committed, this will give you the edge you need.
But, don’t get caught up in working too hard without working smart. Hard work is definitely needed, but set goals and always measure and know where you are. Work for your customers and focus on what they want.
Businesses don’t flourish overnight. Mark himself is known to have lived off mustard and ketchup sandwiches until his first business, Audionet, which eventually became Broadcast.com, started selling. He says that “Business happens over years and years. Value is measured in the total upside of a business relationship, not by how much you squeezed out in any one deal.”
Be Right Once
“The beauty of success, whether it’s finding the girl of your dreams, the right job or financial success, is that it doesn’t matter how many times you have failed, you only have to be right once.” is Mark Cuban’s advice on failure. In the end, no one will remember it if you pick yourself up and learn from your mistakes.
“Everyone has got the will to win; it’s only those with the will to prepare that do win.” In paraphrasing Bobby Knight, Mark Cuban emphasizes again how important it is to want what you are doing, and learning as much as you can about it.
And especially about technology. Keep yourself up to speed with the latest technical advancements and stay ahead of others by using new technologies to their full potential to further your business. Mark’s first successful business was an internet radio service in 1998. He was one of the first major players to provide streaming services and owes most of his success to smart investment during the famous dot-com boom.
Focus on Customers
“Your customers can tell you the things that are broken and how they want to be made happy. Listen to them. Make them happy. But don’t rely on them to create the future roadmap for your product or service. That’s your job.” is Mark Cuban’s advice on how to treat customers. Whether you are working at a department store or if you’re the CEO of a company, this piece of advice still holds true.
Hopefully, these leadership tips from famous investor Mark Cuban will help you on your road to success.
If your department has a set meeting schedule, consider taking a cue from the tech industry and break the mold by canceling the weekly meeting. Respecting your employees’ time and focus will go a long way. A meeting only needs to be held when it is needed to achieve a specific goal. When a goal arises, quickly plan to move ahead to hold the meeting and don’t allow your company’s growth to be restricted by a schedule.
Once you have a new office mentality about meetings in place, how do you add value and make meetings matter?
- Prepare and Share the Plan
Create a clear and concise agenda that will be shared at least one day before the meeting. You want to give all attendees enough time to review and prepare themselves. If certain points will require feedback or updates from an attendee, include a call to action in the body of the email or memo sharing the meeting plan.
A respect of people’s time extends to beginning meetings on time. Set an office culture where each person knows what to expect. Going into a 30-minute brainstorming session to solve a specific problem will be much more successful if it truly is 30 minutes. Allow your employees to learn to trust you by being trustworthy with their time.
While creating the agenda, appoint a decision maker and keep the head count to 10 people or less. Make sure to alert the decision maker in their call to action section of the planning email or memo. A meeting that calls for more than 10 people most likely does not have a precise enough purpose.
The decision maker should quickly introduce the purpose of the meeting at the beginning of the meeting. They should also be capable of bringing back the discussion and engagement if it escapes everyone’s original intent.
- Employee Engagement Ideas
Each meeting should engage every attendee. Divide out how each person can truly bring something to the discussion. Who can help prepare? Who can dig deeper on specific points?
Each person has been chosen for a reason, so let them know that. Employees’ ideas are valuable and wanted.
Eliminate fear and fear’s much worse cousin, suppression. Employees need to feel valued to be able to return their value, a personal and in-depth knowledge of client’s, products, and needs of the company. If an employee is only reinforced for listing arbitrary wins, true future wins for the company can be lost.
As the meeting produces action items, designate the person responsible for it. Let everyone know they are part of reaching the goal and specifically, how they are taking part. Write their name down next to the agenda item they have taken responsibility for. This will create a working log for the next meeting or email chain for everyone to refer to.
Keep the conversation focused on finding solutions. New problems that are not a part of the solution thread at hand should be listed separately, and then the on-point conversation is quickly continued.
Create a system for off-line conversations and let everyone know what it is. Remember to engage employees and give them responsibility. Not every conversation needs to be in a group meeting or group email thread. If two people have an energy about an idea that is off-topic, hand it off to them.
- Time Focus
Just as you expect everyone to arrive on time, have a known end. Designate someone to say out loud when halftime is. Keeping people focused on the goal within limits works in the meeting room as it does on the field.
The end of every meeting needs a review and an agreement. Review each new action item and who has taken responsibility for it. Have each person give a follow-up deadline or estimated delivery day and time. Their agreement in future actions and expectations will drive expectation from within and ultimately results.
As a leader, set aside 20 minutes a week to brainstorm employee engagement ideas. Your people want to be involved and experience purpose in every aspect of their life. Be a part of them attaining this.
Introduce specificity and clarity into the workplace. Teaching people how to quickly and efficiently cover a topic will reduce the time spent on projects and the need for meetings.
Don’t shy away from difficult conversations and have candid conversations. Changing the discussion in a meeting begins with daily interactions. If you don’t skirt issues throughout the week, employees won’t be afraid to get to the point and clearly express what needs to happen for a goal to be achieved in a meeting.
In thinking about leaders and managers, it is easy to romanticize leaders and treat managers with just a little bit of snarky derision. The leader’s ability to inspire with a grand vision is seductive and compelling. A manager hopefully offers competence, which is valued but not inspirational. Thomas Edison understood the value of both leadership and management and summarized the dependency between them, “Vision without execution is just hallucination.” For managers, think execution. For leaders, think vision.
This dichotomy of manager and leader focuses on the skills and styles that push organizations forward, but the reality is that most of the work is done by people who are neither leaders nor managers. What about their preferences?
The needs of people are highly varied. Those with a high need for novelty will likely prefer leaders. Those with a preference for predictability will likely prefer managers. The career stage of an individual will also make a difference, with early career employees typically preferring leaders and late career employees typically preferring managers. While these generalizations may serve as guides, people are amazingly varied and individual.
Both leaders and manager should recognized that their goals will not be met without the hard work of subordinates. Keeping employees happy needs to be an effort, not an afterthought. Both leaders and managers can help themselves by considering employee appreciation ideas and making gratitude part of their style.
The prime goal of a manager is execution, and a good manager will use all tools of business to delivery performance. Applying a people and process framework to a manager, can reveal how a manager will behave. To a manager, a person is a vital unit of production. The manager starts the people piece of the equation with competency. Once the task or job is defined, it must be tackled by an individual with the correct knowledge and skill.
This well-fit individual must then have clear goals and objectives. In turn, the execution of B&O’s must be assessed and ranked for both reward and future improvement purposes. A good manager is not simply mechanistic about employees but recognizes that people must be treated well so that they remain engaged and relatively trouble free, allowing the organization to smoothly move forward.
In the world of process, managers are most at home. The focus of business processes is how things are done. This world is about structure and understanding which person or group is accountable for various components of the structure or system. While a manager views the correct administration of the rules as paramount, he or she will also relish the possibility of revising obsolete or ineffective rules. Process improvement to a manager is steady progress, moving from a current adequate state to a future improved state in a controlled way. A manager believes in evolutionary change.
In the domains of people and process, managers are driven by value and proof of performance. In turn, this leads to a slightly mad respect for Key Performance Indicators. A presentation with one line showing current performance variation and a second trend line showing sustained movement in the right direction is management heaven.
The very definition of leader implies that there are followers. This could lead to a logical conclusion that leaders must be focused on people, which is incorrect. A leader is focused on the vision. It is the only driver. The followers are simply joint participants, drawn by the power of the vision and the leader. Leaders do appreciate followers because followers, properly inoculated, validate the vision and the leader. Leaders also understand that a vision of change is a basic human need. A leader believes in revolutionary change.
Followers are also critical in bringing the vision to fruition, which is the ultimate goal of a leader. Under the guidance of a top leader, followers will make things happen willingly and with zeal. They provide the detailed labor that is needed.
Concerning business processes, leaders will be less disciplined and systematic than managers, possibly even to the point of even being disrespectful or dismissive of structure and process. This trait can be a double-edged sword. Is disregard for established business process a challenging or destructive behavior? It depends. There may be a fine line between the two side of this trait, and that nuance, along with the flexibility and tolerance of the organization, will determine if the leader is creating chaos or transformation,
Tom Edison did not hallucinate. He was an effective manager with the discipline to take care of business. He was also a leader, with visions that created the 2oth century. While he may have been a rare individual who was both a leader and a manager, his success illustrates that an enterprise’s needs both styles and skill sets if it is to succeed.
In order for a business to be successful, it is critical that it implements an effective leadership development strategy. Indeed, within any organisation, the managers should be competent, inspire confidence and set the standard for their team. Ultimately, without strong leadership, it is impossible to achieve peak performance.
With this in mind, we take a closer look at five of the most essential leadership skills for managers to develop.
1. Ability to Motivate
Perhaps the single most important skill a leader must have is the ability to motivate others, and this is why leadership training programmes should place a strong emphasis on motivational strategies. If you cannot inspire other people to work hard and push for results, you will simply fail as a leader.
However, motivation means more than just giving the occasional inspiring team talk. You must foster strong relationships with your team, provide the right incentives, make sure team members feel valued and leverage their own individual qualities, so that they feel willing and able to go the extra mile.
2. Maintaining Integrity
Another important trait shared by all good leaders is integrity. In fact, according to research carried out by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman on behalf of the Harvard Business Review, other leaders rank it as the second most important characteristic for those in management positions to possess.
Integrity and honesty is highly valued by staff members and is essential if you are to gain their respect. You must do what you say you are going to do, avoid telling lies, stand up for what you believe in and be willing to speak out when necessary. You should also avoid misleading people or blaming others for your mistakes.
3. Calmness Under Pressure
Any leader is inevitably going to experience times when things go wrong, results look uncertain, or deadlines look like they may be missed. However, in these times, it is vital that you do not capitulate under pressure. Instead, you need to have confidence in yourself and your team, and try to maintain composure at all times.
“What makes a good leader is the ability to stay calm and in control,” explains Brian Tracy, a sales training expert and the author of the book The Psychology of Achievement. “When you exude confidence in yourself, in the decision, and in the people around you, you instill the same feelings and attitudes in others.”
4. Long-Term Thinking
The business world is extremely results-orientated and this can sometimes encourage short-term thinking, as leaders concern themselves only with meeting the next deadline or meeting their next financial target. Truly great managers, on the other hand, are able to keep the bigger picture in mind.
Long-term decisions are more difficult to make, because they may not pay off instantly. Nevertheless, leadership requires vision and a strong manager is able to make smart decisions and stay the course, with confidence that the eventual pay off will be far greater than if they had implemented another short-term fix.
5. Leading By Example
Finally, the ability to lead by example is paramount. As a manager, you are the role model to your team, so you should be the employee you want to see in the workplace. Avoid emotional outbursts or erratic behaviour, set a high standard of work for employees to match and earn the trust of your subordinates.
Think about the way you dress, the way you conduct yourself, the type of work you do and consider how it makes you look in the eyes of others. A good manager is happy to take initiative and knows when to get their own hands dirty in order to establish credibility and positively shape the behaviour of others.
Monika Götzmann is the EMEA Marketing Director for MHI Global (formerly AchieveGlobal), a global sales training and leadership development company. It specialises in providing exceptional sales management courses and helps organisations develop business strategies to achieve sales success. Monika enjoys sharing her insight and thoughts to provide better sales and leadership development training.