People often ask how I managed to start my own real estate company when I was 20 years old and scale it to over $100 million in annual revenue over the past 10 years. Some business leaders prefer to closely hold on to the secret to their success, worried that sharing it will somehow threaten their position. I believe the more leaders and entrepreneurs I can help, the better for all.
I see aspiring leaders everywhere and believe they are pivotal to my company’s continued success. My job as CEO is to help them turn their dreams into reality. In fact, I consider developing world-class leadership throughout DLP as my No. 1 responsibility and focus. These are the tactics that have proven most effective.
Influence Others Through Inspiration And Passion
Look at any results-producing, successful organization. Every example you think of likely has one common denominator: Leadership is the key driver of that success.
Of course, leadership starts at the top, but it shouldn’t end there. In my mind, there is only one way to create and lead a company of leaders, and that is to become a better leader yourself. Early on, I recognized the need to continuously nurture my leadership skills. Leaders grow through a never-ending search for knowledge, a relentlessly disciplined and consistent approach to improvement and growth, and a desire to invest and help others.
I’m a voracious reader; I average two to three books per week. But more important is that I want to pass on that same thirst for knowledge. By developing thought-provoking, goal-oriented book clubs, one-to-one groups and other inspirational environments for sharing these discussions, current and future leaders are granted space to focus on growth, improvement and goal fulfillment.
Generate Through Vision
If you’re not deliberate in your approach, encouraging leadership throughout the ranks is nothing more than a nebulous corporate idea, one that sounds good on paper but goes no further. Instead, I believe the concept must be clearly defined and put into daily action by senior management. Otherwise, you can’t expect employees to take the lead.
My vision is to build a companywide team of truly exceptional leaders — elite, world-class leaders. Leaders can work toward such a vision by sharing it widely as part of the organization’s core values, and by emphasizing that leadership requires specific traits, such as humble confidence, a drive for greatness, execution and excellence.
Moreover, in tangible terms, create a development program through which team members are frequently encouraged to step out of their comfort zone to lead, be it a small-area project, an enterprise initiative, an entire team or a department. When individuals hone their leadership skills in this way, they become better able to solve problems and drive results for the company.
Ignite By Purpose; Execute By Talent
Leadership needs all hands on deck working toward the same goal: to build an enduring organization that is positioned for success and can continuously improve performance and increase returns. That’s exactly why we all need a deep bench of leaders.
Accomplishing this starts by attracting and hiring talented, motivated team members who share in your core values and then providing a culture that empowers and provides opportunities for these team members to grow, lead and become what we call “Rockstar A Players.” Focus on equipping team members with tools and training to succeed, giving them the opportunities to step up and providing the accountability needed to take ownership and achieve new heights.
Produce By Conviction
Once individuals are on a leadership track, they should be trusted to own the responsibilities that have been assigned to them. Ultimately, their success is the company’s success; therefore, you have a vested interest in making sure company priorities, expectations and goals are clearly outlined at the start of any assignment. In addition, their performance to goal must be measured and tracked so they can see the fruits of their labor.
When goals don’t materialize as expected, employees learn the next lesson of leadership: figuring out the root of the problem and devising a solution instead of pointing fingers or playing the blame game.
How Do I Know It Works?
The most effective leaders lead by example. If you create a company full of elite, world-class leaders, then everyone is aspiring to their highest potential and acting as a supportive and reliable leadership model for their own direct reports, teammates, and other current and future employees and leaders. That’s an amazing, unstoppable organization.
But how do I know this culture of leadership works? Because day in and day out, each member of our team of 350 comes to work committed to the “20 Mile March,” one of our core values taken from a book by one of my favorite authors, Jim Collins: Great by Choice. This means that everyone consistently does the activities that drive results day in and day out, regardless of what is going on around them. Everyone puts forth the relentless effort and dedication not for their own individual egos or goals, but of the greater good of the organization.
The results we’ve seen speak volumes about the effectiveness of this formula: We have driven 70% or greater growth every year since our first in business, including being ranked as the No. 5 fastest-growing company in the U.S. among those who have made the Inc. 5000 list seven or more years in a row.
The development and growth of leaders is imperative to the ongoing success of any business. Leadership shows the way through the forest and helps to achieve team goals by teaching, coaching and empowerment. True leaders develop leaders.