Ed Bobit, the late founder and CEO of Bobit Business Media, owner of LCT Magazine, applied many excellent leadership traits.
For more than 20 years, LCT has been producing the “Top” lists to include the largest fleets, the fastest growing companies, the young guns and the most innovative and creative operators. In recent years, this issue has morphed into what we now coin the “Leadership Issue,” which I find fits perfectly. In fact, it was from this annual issue that the idea for the People’s Choice Awards, which includes a special nod to our most inspiring leaders, was borne. We will be hosting the second annual awards ceremony at the LCT/NLA Show East in Atlantic City, N.J., Oct. 19-21.
In late June, the founder of our parent company, Bobit Business Media, which owns LCT Magazine, passed away. Ed Bobit was an entrepreneur through and through. But unlike most people who launch their own business, Ed “Coach” Bobit went on to build a media empire that spans more than 50 years. He had all the right stuff of what I consider a great leader. Inside this industry, I see many people I would put in that category as well. What is it that makes a person great? It’s a cross section of several things.
Leading from the front: Great business owners put in as much effort as the rest of the team, unafraid to roll up their sleeves and “get their hands dirty.” They recognize their strengths and weaknesses, and appreciate the need to complement themselves and their companies. Great owners hire others who excel in the areas in which they are weak. Great owners are created as much by the people they surround themselves with as the people they are.
A great owner gives up control and learns (even by force) to trust. After starting a company, owners often stay in the same role — trying to save money by doing it all themselves. But if employees cannot do their jobs properly because they are being second-guessed or undermined, then what incentive do they have to try? As a result, they stop performing to the point where the business owner further justifies the belief that no one else can do the jobs as well. And so the cycle continues.
Get your hands dirty: There are business owners who believe that by starting the company, they have fulfilled their role and now it’s up to everyone else to make the company succeed. They reside in an ivory tower of their own making, away from the activity of less important staff whose banter and daily tasks they think might cloud their judgment. This is a view usually endorsed by business owners who don’t want to dirty their hands. The bigger picture, the strategy, the route map to growth, whatever you choose to call it, will not be created by hiding away. Nor will it happen by choosing when you want to be in the office. You will not breed loyalty if after a day on the golf course, or at the spa, you arrive and start telling everyone what they are doing wrong.
A staff needs to buy into your vision: As the business owner, you need to command the respect of those who work for you. Your staff needs to embrace your original vision for the company and the strategy to achieve it. This can only be done if you are visible and present. A company will not run itself; it needs strong leadership. Your role is to provide that direction and create the strategic alliances and partnerships that will take your business to higher levels. You must be the figurehead, the spokesperson and the leader.
Focus on driving the business forward: Great business owners do not fill their days doing “stuff.” A big mistake is to think that as the day has been filled, then it has been a good day. Activity does not equate to success. As the business owner, it is necessary to focus on what will drive the business forward, or what will really make a difference to the bottom line and ensure the company has a system that does not reinvent the wheel every day.
It takes genuine skill to view the past, present and future of a business and determine how to steer your company to more profitable terrain. In sum, a great business owner must be a master of multiple talents — a visionary, an inspired leader and an innovator.