Effective leadership comes down to four steps an owner, CEO, or senior manager needs to nail:

  1. Create the vision.
  2. Sell the vision.
  3. Execute the vision.
  4. Monitor the results.

Do you consider yourself a good leader? Good leaders have a vision for their company and the ability to share that vision with everyone involved in their business. Ensure you are clear about your goals and
objectives because it is up to you to take  responsibility and lead by example.

I always practiced an open-door policy, and I wandered around the offices and sometimes ate at the cafeteria. I believe part of being a good leader is to be close to the business—very close. Don’t ever get too far from the front of the business. I used to go to the training rooms every couple of weeks and test trainees to be sure they were learning what they needed to know to be successful for themselves and for the company.

Good leaders must be able to create a vision and sell that vision strongly enough to get honest and enthusiastic buy-in from senior managers, who can then sell the vision down the line. At that point, if everyone gets behind the vision, the goals, and the objectives, then the vision needs to be executed. To do that, you as the leader and the other leaders at all levels of your company need strong communication skills. Remember, one of the biggest complaints put forward by employees is lack of communication.

Good leaders are not necessarily born; they can be made, but they do have to be able to show empathy, be decisive, know how to hire and trust the right people, recognize and develop existing talent, delegate rather than do everything themselves, collaborate with the senior management team and others, and never be afraid to ask for help.

A message on persistence

One of the keys to success is being persistent, not giving up at the first sign of problems or challenges. I remember a business I invested in that required patience and persistence, not to mention additional capital investment to survive.

I invested in a company called Ultra-Scan that was founded in 1987; it had developed an ultrasound scanner, similar to those used in medical applications, to identify fingerprints. I had invested $20 million, but sales never lived up to expectations due to the high cost to the end user.

This could have easily been a time to cut my losses, but the CEO called me one day and said he’d had an idea. He explained that our current technology was designed to only scan two fingers but that the FBI was interested in us developing four-finger identification. He needed another $5 million and a year or two to develop what the FBI wanted.

Sometimes you have to stick with the plan, so I put in the capital and increased my equity position. Time passed, and I got another call from him, this time to tell me that a company called Qualcomm wanted
to buy the company for $65 million. My patience, persistence, and belief in the concept was rewarded with a significant profit. Like the song says, you’ve got to know when to hold them and when to fold them.

Excerpted from Built, Not Born: A Self Made Billionaire’s No-Nonsense Guide for Entrepreneurs. Copyright © 2020 by Tom Golisano. Published by HarperCollins Leadership. 

A Self-Made Billionaire’s No-Nonsense Guide for Entrepreneurs.

Paychex Founder, Tom Golisano shares the hard-won lessons from his entrepreneurship journey in Built, Not Born, a guide to growing a company to any size by going against the grain like he did.

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