10 Lessons on Leadership - Inspired by Steve Jobs and Others

1. Foresight not hindsight

Great leaders take action rather than abdicate in the name of going with the flow. The benefit of hindsight will always give you a better ‘decision’; the problem is that it’s too late to make a difference.

Acting with foresight is not easy and separates good leaders from those that are not.

Foresight requires planning, vision and belief in what you are doing.

Making the right decisions and taking advantage of the opportunities that surface requires a good connection with why you are doing what you are doing, and your values. Having this connection will give you the confidence to act.

There is of course a place for hindsight and we cover this in the next lesson.

Faced with challenges, leaders with foresight find a way, rather than finding an excuse.

2. Failure is an Option

Failure is an option, but failure to learn from failure is not an option. Thomas Edison did not invent the light bulb at his first attempt. Estimates range from 1,000 attempts to 10,000 attempts. But his mindset was not that of failure, rather that these were merely necessary learning steps to eventual success.

Often clinical business leaders are fearful of implementing change into their practices because of the potential impact on how they are then perceived by their patients or clients. This is especially true of price increases or changes to their service structure. Instead they prefer the safety of the familiar and status quo. The trouble with this is that the outside world is changing and customers’ expectations are also changing, especially in a fast paced technological world.

As Steve Jobs said: “Sometimes when you innovate you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly. You then get on with dropping it, improving it, or changing tack.”

When faced with failure of an idea or project, a review of the decisions made and what could have been done better allows you to learn from what went wrong. Hindsight is great as a tool to review the potential for improvement, but there is no gain in using hindsight simply to apportion blame.

3. Embrace change

To achieve a goal that is not currently being met, you have to make changes. When you make changes, there will be some discomfort. Some people are fearful of this discomfort and some mistake the discomfort for failure itself, especially when they have been happily coasting for a while.

People don’t like shifting out of their comfort zones - as a leader your job is to support and encourage them in the process.

If you are not great with change, as a leader you will need to dig deep. It’s easy to be an ostrich, but you have the responsibility to lead your team to onward, continued success . After all, they are ‘investing’ their livelihood in you.

4. Details are important - but don’t get lost in them

Don’t ever lose sight of your big ‘Why’. Start with your purpose and why, then add the details to join the dots. All big decisions should be made with your purpose and ‘Why’ central to the decision.

Does it fit?

It’s the core idea that leads the way and with this framework in place, the details then matter more than anything.

Big idea first.

Details to make it happen next.

When you experience overwhelm, come back to your ‘Why’, so that you can get an overview and some clarity.

5. Without passion, there is no ‘success’

It’s our passion in what we do that makes independents stand out and it is not easily copied by big corporates.

What do you want to do while you are here - what legacy do you want to create in your work?

Are you still passionate about what you do?

6. Be careful of your increasing success.

With great patient feedback and clinical success comes arrogance.

You’re a clinical expert. You wouldn’t be able to keep your practice running without your clinical success and patients appreciating it - but remember you are an expert in your field, whereas business success requires expertise in many other areas.

Seeking expertise and support in these other areas will elevate your business and help you manage your time better. That means more time to spend on the areas that you are exceptional in, that are more within your comfort zone, allowing your excellence to shine through without the stress and burden of trying to juggle everything.

Having a full clinical diary doesn’t guarantee success - it could be the recipe for being a busy fool with cash flow problems.

It’s why many forward thinking (optometrist) owners recognise the need for business mentors and practice managers who are on the shop floor, rather than in the dark room of the consulting room.

7. Rivals

Respect your rivals.

Whatever their motivation or ethics, they are here to succeed in their own way.

Rise above the need to knock them, instead, concentrate on what you do, and why you do it.

Respect your differences, understand your differences and work hard to be better.

You cannot appeal to everybody.

Some patients will naturally gravitate towards what you offer, and some will run a mile towards your competition.

What’s important is for the market place to know that you are there and what you are offering.

8. Don’t be shy

It’s pointless being the best clinician in the area if no one knows about you.

How can potential members of the public benefit from your skill-set if they don’t know you offer what you do.

The primary source of new patients for most independent clinical businesses is by word of mouth. But rather than abdicating ‘word of mouth’ to a few patients, how can you proactively encourage it?

How can you get on the radar of more people so that they come to you, rather than responding to a TV advert because they do not know any better?

The key here, is being clever with your marketing strategy - investing for a good return and not areas that will just be a waste of money.

Storm’s marketing support will help you here.

9. Make things more human

How is your product going to help people? That is all that interests them - what difference is it going to make to them? So move away from the technical speak, and start training your team to speak more ‘everyday human’!

Apple invented an MP3 player, and so did many other companies. The difference was that Steve Jobs took the iPod to market as “a thousand songs in your pocket”.

10. Be interested

Be interested, not interesting, is a mantra often used by coach Sonia Choquette.

Where is your focus? It shouldn’t just be focused on me, me, me and glory, glory, glory.

Be interested in your team - understand what motivates them, their ‘Why’, and how their life is.

It comes down to being human. Just because you’re the boss, just because you pay their wage, doesn’t mean your team are inferior to you.

Everyone has a part to play.

Chat more, be approachable, make time for them.

Leading your team is key to you achieving the goals and legacy you want. It is also key to helping you manage your time effectively. But transitioning from clinician to managing to leading is not easy.

Storm is by your side. It’s the support in improving your knowledge and skill-set in business as well as the mentorship framework that will remove many of the daunting challenges faced by independents in an increasingly cut-throat corporate world.

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