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Leadership: under review

  • Mike Rorie
- Posted: August 1, 2014
It’s the time of year when snow & ice management company owners may be able to take a breath and see how they’re doing as a leader. So, how are you doing? It’s not always easy to know for sure. Being the leader of an organization involves a lot of responsibility, and being the “CEO of yourself” often takes a backseat to the day-to-day operations. It’s also not something you can do alone. Your employees, your financial performance, and the community in which you operate are the best indicators as to how you’re performing as a leader.

Start with your company

Take a good look inside your inner circle, the people you interact with the most, and you’ll know how you’re doing pretty quickly.

Employee satisfaction. When your people are pleased and committed to winning, you’re doing a lot of things right. Are you keeping your top talent? Can you provide opportunities for growth? Do people want to come to work for your company? If you can say yes to all of these questions, that’s a great indication that you’re doing a good job leading your team.

Financial success. Financial performance is an easy and obvious one. If you’re not doing a good job leading the company, your finances will reflect that. Period.

Positive brand recognition. Having a known, well-respected brand in your community is very telling. Think about everyone you come in contact with, including subcontractors, suppliers, your banker and especially your competitors. What do they think of your company? As much as your competitors don’t like being beat, if they’re praising you, you’re doing a good job.

Build a network
Building relationships with industry peers and other business owners is also a great way to become familiar with your strengths and weaknesses.

When I first started, my father was my main advisor and a large part of my network. I would go over my financials with him and he would give me guidance. But as my company grew and progressed, I needed to build a network of peers both inside and outside the industry to help me move forward.

In seeking this network I was fortunate to make good, smart friends and meet advisors I could rely on to listen to me and direct my attention to the right solutions.

If you don’t have this same opportunity, go out and make some new friends. Spend 10-15% of your time networking with other business owners and you will begin to know and become known by a lot of other progressive business leaders. What you can learn from one another you won’t learn anywhere else. Plus, those connections will pay for themselves many times over. The time spent is worth it.

Where to build your network
When I was building a network, I first looked to trade associations like SIMA, and I recommend you start there.

Association events offer you the opportunity to meet noncompetitors who face similar challenges. Hearing about their experiences and their solutions can be a tremendous help in figuring out where you stand or how you’re doing as a business owner. Plus you can benchmark your performance against the best in the industry to see how you compare.

Fortunately, there are several strong organizations across North America to tap into. In addition to SIMA, PLANET, Landscape Ontario and state organizations can offer you a valuable network of industry peers.

Locally, your city’s Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club and similar civic organizations are a good resource. I would also recommend Vistage and the Young Presidents’ Organization. Find out what’s available in your area and get involved.

Lighten the load
Hard times are usually the standard in growing a small business. Being an owner and/or CEO is challenging and requires constant attention, especially when the business isn’t scaled. A powerful network outside of your business, combined with paying attention to the people around you and how they’re doing, is essential to helping you understand how you’re doing as the CEO so that you, and your company, can continue to grow and thrive. 

  • Employee satisfaction is a good sign of your leadership as CEO.
  • Build a network of colleagues and advisors who can honestly assess your role and guide you when you fall behind.
  • A strong network will allow you to benchmark your company against others.
  • Look to industry associations and attend their events to help build your peer network.
Mike Rorie is CEO of GIS Dynamics, parent company to Go iLawn and Go iPave.
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