What does it really mean in today’s world to be a leader? Small business owners are pushed by clients and employees alike to become better leaders, better bosses. But where does leadership really begin?
NOLN reached out to Steve Farber, a keynote speaker on leadership and author of the upcoming leadership book Love is Just Damn Good Business, who has provided us with his best advice on how to grow as a leader. Being an effective person and focusing on developing self effectiveness is a first step to inspire employees, but there is much more to learn about the self love and fear that goes along with the process.
Farber’s self-made leadership style, “Extreme Leadership,” puts a focus on the need for love and fear. According to Farber, without loving oneself and one’s work, the customer will never feel adequately cared for. And, while love of the customer is a crucial piece of the puzzle, so is a healthy dose of fear. Farber’s work has redefined the feeling of fear as something that is actually positive. It shows you you’re going in the right direction; without fear, a leader can never thrive, Farber reasons.
Seeing yourself as a leader, then, is a first step. It’s about seeing your own potential to influence people around you and inspire them to reach their goals, to do meaningful work. With Farber’s advice, you’ll learn how your love for yourself can extend to your employees and customers, and how to know when a little fear just may be showing you the way to go.
What are some beginning tips on how to be an effective person or leader?
First of all, how do you define “effective?” Is it being productive, the ability to get things done, the ability to accomplish your goals? For any small business owner, it might actually be better to start with what isn’t obvious: that everybody has the opportunity to lead. A lot of these folks feel that leadership has nothing to do with what they do, it’s for people running large corporations or politicians. Do you treat them well, pay them well, set a positive example?
Recognize that as a leader for your employees, are you personally— the way you work, the way you run your shop and approach customers— are you doing that in a way that you want employees to model after? Your own attitude is what you can start changing to incentivize them to do the same. If you want to have that level of service that your customers are going to love, this is a must have. You have to create that experience of working there that your employees are going to love and the customers will pick up on that.
Based on your past work, the concept of love seems to be crucial to your method of leadership. How can that help make a person more effective?
So there’s a logical progression here. Let’s start with the customer, and go back from there. We want them to love what we do for them, we want them to love the experience. That’s where the money comes from, where the referrals and word of mouth comes from. In order to do that, we have to create a positive environment by leading through example, by showing our employees how much we care about our work and clients. But if we back up one more step, we can’t do that if we don’t love the business itself. So then it becomes an issue of self love: do I love this work, do I believe in myself, do I think we have something great here? If I don’t have that self love, I don’t have much to give away.
Start with a simple question: why do I love this business, why do I love this job? Is it the people, the cars? Finding the exact element of the work that you love is the ember that you can fan into a flame. The second part to that question is: how can I show that love? Another way of saying it is: what’s your personal brand? Are you personally clear on what you want your reputation to be? For me, my attitude needs to make it clear that my customer is going to be my greatest fan.
Your leadership style also involves fear, but a healthy kind of fear. Care to elaborate?
It doesn’t have to be anything dramatic; it could be as simple as trying something new. For example, say I realize that I have treated my employees badly, and I want to start to turn this around. I thought that was the way I was supposed to do things since I’m the “boss ,”
but now I’m going to create a different kind of environment where people enjoy coming to work. So, I have to act differently towards them. Something as simple as saying hello in the morning and having a cup of coffee with my workers.
Well, if that’s something I haven’t done before, it might be scary, and all these fears start coming up. Like, what are people going to say, will they think I’m going soft? What I’m suggesting is that this fear, in the right context, can be a good thing. It can tell you you’re going in the right direction, that you’re trying something new which might lead to being more effective.
Being effective shouldn’t always feel comfortable. Sometimes it should feel uncomfortable because you’re doing something new. If you understand that, and understand that it’s a natural thing, then that can become a positive reinforcement— “Oh, there’s that fear, that means that I’m doing something. It means I’m trying to grow and take the next step.” It becomes an indicator for where you should put your attention, not something that should be avoided.