Two CEOs Talk Shop: Leadership Thoughts From Our CEO Danny Done and Professional Outsider Randy Boek
Leadership can make or break a business. Whether you work at a Fortune 500 company or a three person startup, businesses need top notch leaders to motivate their team and drive better results. To get some insight on building high performing teams, I sat down with Marketeering Group Founder and CEO Danny Done, and Randy Boek, CEO of Route Two Inc, a company that provides executive leadership development. Here’s what they had to say.
What are the primary roles of a leader?
Danny: Leadership is about empowering people and demonstrating what taking initiative looks like. It’s about getting beside your team, and helping them feel empowered. It’s about communicating your mission and motivating your team to work towards it.
Randy: One of the primary roles of a leader is to grow more leaders. When your team needs help are you just doing the work for them? Or does the leader believe their job is to help their team members learn and grow? A leader needs to help their team understand the company’s core values and perpetuate the vision within the company.
You both spoke about company values. As a leader, how do you get your team on board with your company’s mission?
Danny: I think the key to that is having your team have some ownership of that mission. To build that ownership, there needs to be open communication and strong relationships among team members and leaders. I often recommend the book “Selling the Invisible.” It’s about what a brand is, and what you’re really selling. You’re not just selling a widget, or a sprocket, or a thing, you’re selling a solution to a problem. If I were to put a single word on what we sell at Marketeering Group it would be confidence, confidence that you’re moving in the right direction.
Randy: People want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. If you can engage people in the organization, and help people understand what the values are, and if they get excited about the vision, there’s great potential for people to be contributors. You need to figure out what motivates them. As leaders, we need to engage teams and create the same future that the leaders have in mind. You’ve got to find the right people and help them figure out how to help us achieve the vision.
You’ve both grown startups into successful businesses. What tips do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs who are building leadership in new companies?
Randy: In my early days as an entrepreneur, one of the biggest things I learned was the need for clarity. I came from an entrepreneurial family and because of that, initially wanted to pursue a corporate job with steady income. I did that for 11 years, but after that the entrepreneurial life was pretty appealing to me. It was difficult to adjust to the inconsistency of entrepreneurship and I thought about going back to the corporate world. But I realized that autonomy was the most important thing to me, and I couldn’t have that with a corporate job. Once I decided I would either make this work or starve, and had a clear vision of what I wanted to do and who I wanted to serve, the business took off.
Danny: My first job out of college was working at a small tech V.C. I worked directly with the CEO and he asked me about my career goals. I said want to be a business owner. He said that’s great, I’m not renewing your contract here next year. He told me in order to succeed, I needed to get sales experience, and in so doing, find a way to make other people’s lives better. So I got that experience and found the right people to build a team. Throughout that process, I learned the most important thing is to remember your mission, and share that unified vision. Being able to communicate that vision and being committed to it is one of the keys to success.
What are some of the most important lessons for aspiring leaders to learn?
Danny: How to manage people. We need mentorship. There’s only so much you can learn from 600 word articles on Entrepreneur.com. The truth is business is always and will always be about relationships. The same goes from passing the torch from one generation to the next. When you have strong relationships with your team, customers, and mentors, everybody wins.
Randy: Build a community of trust around yourself. Demonstrate integrity: do what you say you’re going to do. If you make a commitment, follow through. Build your competence. Make sure you have the competence to do the roll you’re in and anticipate future needs. Make learning imperative, ask for help, pursue the information you need to succeed. Care about others. Get your ego out of the way, show compassion about the people you work with and your customers, suppliers.