Unlocking Your Company’s Hero Potential 

Seven steps that drive change
by Jeffrey Hayzlett

An idea can come from anywhere, or anyone — from the C-suite to the mailroom. Leaders don’t have a monopoly on innovation and strategic ideas. However, many people are afraid to innovate because they’re afraid to fail. 

Don’t be afraid to fail! 

Throughout my career, I’ve bought and sold more than 250 business and handled billions of dollars in transactions, and one of the most frequent questions I get asked is, “Jeff, what if you had failed?” To that, I answer, “So what? Will anyone die if I fail?” Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to fail, nor do I want to set up the team to fail. I do, however, want to encourage people to look at the bigger picture. No one wants to fail or even screw up, but unless you’re a surgeon, no one will die if you fail. There might be other consequences, but entrepreneurs and businesspeople alike need to learn how to handle failure. Don’t fear it; learn from it. 

As Zig Ziglar once said, “Fear has two meanings: Forget Everything and Run, or Face Everything and Rise. The choice is yours.” 

But, this is just the beginning. Here are seven steps to help you transform your business into a hero business.

Step 1: Call to Action

People are one action and one decision away from creating a better future and changing an outcome. As a leader, you must answer the call by disrupting the status quo. One of the things that irritate me the most is people saying, “This is the way we’ve always done things.” I always say to them, “Where is it written that we have to keep doing things the same way?” They never give me a clear answer because there isn’t one. 

Don’t be afraid to disrupt the status quo. To me, status quo equals mediocrity and lack of ingenuity. Muscle up the courage to stand for something bigger than yourself and mean it. Be the hero of your own story and dig deeper. Be a leader who’s nimble and able to pivot in order to keep up with the fast-paced business environment.

Step 2: Find Your Purpose

Businesses need to rediscover their “whys” to overcome any of the “hows” that come into play. Everything in business comes with a cost and sacrifice and it’s not always smooth and easy. What’s the purpose that gets you excited to handle the difficulties you’ll come across? Ask any entrepreneur and they’ll tell you that road is paved with nothing but pot holes and bumps, so what’s the outcome that keeps you moving forward? What values do you hold that are greater than your own satisfaction? The world is a messy place; clean it up and make your mess your business. 

Have you ever asked your team if they know what the company stands for? Every business requires a high level of commitment from everyone, and that starts with your values. Recent data shows that an overwhelming majority of U.S. companies (90 percent) report having a set of clearly defined corporate values. Yet, only 22 percent responded that 60 percent or more of their employees can recite their company’s core values. If your employees don’t know what they’re fighting for, it’ll have a negative impact on your employees, customers and the bottom line. 

Step 3: Find Mentors

A mentor is someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced person. Mentorship is for anyone seeking knowledge, and, regardless of where you are in business today, there’s always someone who did it before you. 

The most impactful mentor for me was a gentleman by the name of Mike O’Connor, the owner of a print shop I ended up purchasing. He taught me the proper way to run a business, including what benchmarks to use to determine how much I needed to sell, how to set up metrics and KPI’s, and how to understand the targets I needed to hit. To this day, I use those same teachings, but on a larger scale. 

In the U.S., there are more than 600,000 consultants, thousands of trade associations, and millions of people who have achieved a healthy modicum of success. Here’s my advice when finding a mentor: Knowledge and experience aren’t partial to a specific industry. Don’t limit yourself. If you’re looking for a mentor, look for someone who will push you out of your comfort zone and someone who is capable of asking tough questions. Successful leaders create tension by constantly pushing the envelope. That’s how you grow. 

Step 4: Road of Trials

Here’s a safe bet: You’ll be put to the test throughout your journey. You must stay committed to your vision and the team and avoid taking shortcuts. Those are only quick fixes, not long-term solutions. Heroes can be knocked down, but they never give up.

Heroic leadership will bring its fair share of “haters.” When leaders try to push excellence, haters come out of the woodwork. In order to overcome that, understand that haters have anger toward people who are successful because they see you achieving something they haven’t summoned the courage to do yet. A hero leader’s attitude is, “we don’t take no for an answer. We don’t settle or conform to mediocracy, because it’s beneath us.”

Step 5: Create High-Performance Teams

Having the right team in place helps leaders overcome obstacles. They are dedicated to make a positive impact and row in the same direction to move forward. Seek people who are committed to your mission and vision, with hardcore discipline and core values. 

The old adage applies: “You are who you surround yourself with.” Keep the people around you who want to help you succeed and have the ability to guide you through difficult transitions with sound experience. 

If you have to hire new people, look to hire people who are not like you, but complement you. Take your time to hire the right person, because hiring the wrong one can kill your growth. Also, hire people who are passionate about leaving their mark in the world and people who have high self-discipline. 

Step 6: New Business Approach

When was the last time you rebranded? If it’s been a while, you might want to change that. If your value proposition doesn’t resonate with customers, consider re-branding. Has there been a competitive disruption within your industry? Re-brand. If your goals aren’t being met, if you’re pivoting or are experiencing significant growth, re-brand. 

A brand is nothing but a promise delivered and it’s summarized by the relationship between you and your customers. People are attracted, and are loyal, to brands because they form emotional connections to their products or services. Businesses spend money trying to get people to like them instead of getting people to want them. What makes your brand stand out from the crowd? What will make people smile when they think of you? Or look forward to having your product again? 

Step 7: Return Home

When in doubt, bring it home. Go back to where you get your energy, what makes you curious and the ideas that make you better. Your past accomplishments are nice to talk about, but leave them in the past. Strive for the next win. Kill the status quo but don’t forget where you came from. Covet this mentality and don’t slow down when pushing the envelope. Being an entrepreneur is a way of life. It’s in your blood. I know it’s in mine.   

Jeffrey Hayzlett is the primetime television host of “C-Suite with Jeffrey Hayzlett” and “Executive Perspectives LIVE” on C-Suite TV and host of the award-winning “All Business with Jeffrey Hayzlett” on C-Suite Radio. Hayzlett is a global business celebrity, Hall of Fame speaker, Chairman/CEO of C-Suite Network, and best-selling author. His most recent book is The Hero Factor: How Great Leaders Transform Organizations and Create Winning Cultures. 

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