Leadership Lessons—Three Legs of the Stool

Fran Social is the social media equivalent of Facebook for the franchising industry and part of the International Franchise Association. It is where members connect, share and engage with other people in the industry. Today there are more than 20,700 members of Fran Social.

What I enjoy about it is franchise leaders from IFA’s 10,000-plus franchise organizations discuss a variety of subjects. In about 30 seconds each morning I can determine if I want to read about the subject being discussed … or possibly even weigh in with some thoughts.

Franchising? Are you asking yourself, “So what does franchising have to do with me?” What I’ve learned in 33-plus years of involvement in franchising and nearly 15 years of involvement with the IFA is that small business is small business. It doesn’t matter if it is Glass Doctor, City Auto Glass, All Star Glass or Glass Pro. We are all in this together and, basically, provide the same services. Again, small business.

One of the frequent contributors to Fran Social is my friend, Paul Segreto. For more than 25 years Paul has exclusively served the franchise industry as consultant and coach, senior-level corporate executive, advocate, multi-unit franchisee and area developer. Today he is the CEO of Franchise Foundry.

Paul is the founder and host of the popular Internet radio show Franchise Today and interviewed me about the importance of “culture” in a company. Click here for that interview.

A recent question on Fran Social was about “Leadership.” The original question was “What is the single most important quality for a leader to have?” I enjoyed what Segreto said:

“When evaluating a franchise leader, I typically circle back to the three T’s—Truth, Trust & Transparency! Much a like a three-legged stool, when one leg is weak or breaks altogether, the stool falls over under its own weight. When added pressure enters the mix, it’s crushed. A franchise leader must, at all times be absolutely truthful, never cause reason for anyone to distrust him/her (actions often speak louder than words) and absolutely be fully transparent in communications and actions including in crises situations.”

Now eliminate the word “franchise” and read it again. It doesn’t change in meaning whatsoever, does it? Read it for a third time and replace the word “franchise” and insert “small business leader.” Now we are cooking with gas, aren’t we? This article applies to everyone reading this blog.

I like how Paul paints the picture by using the “three legs of a stool” analogy. We all know what happens if one breaks. We all know what it is like if one of the legs is half the length of the other two. For instance, if truth and transparency is important to a person, but trust is not, the stool is worthless. The same is true regardless of which of the three a leader doesn’t possess.

As we finish 2014 and look at our 2015 resolutions perhaps this short paragraph, describing leadership, should resonate with each of us. If I asked any of your employees to describe you with three words and your employee said you were “trustworthy, transparent and truthful” there is no doubt your employee would view you as a great leader.

That’s what it is all about, isn’t it? Not how we view ourselves but how our employees view us! That is what leadership is all about.

Thanks, Paul, for the words of wisdom.

Leadership Lessons—The Right Coach

Until 2010 I had no idea where Baylor University was located. I had no idea who Art Briles was. I had no clue of who Robert Griffin III was.

On Saturday, my wife Mary Kay and I, along with several friends, went to Baylor stadium at 8 a.m. to witness “College Game Day, Built by Home Depot”—a show hosted at a different university every Saturday before the college football games start. This is now the 21st year for this broadcast at various universities and has become a fan-favorite every Saturday morning.

Why was Game Day at Baylor Saturday? The Baylor Bears were ranked #6 and playing #9 Kansas State. The Bears hope to be named as one of the top four college teams in the nation and play for the national championship. Baylor’s new McLane stadium was a great venue for the show.

It wasn’t always like this in Waco, Texas. Before Coach Art Briles came to Baylor in 2009, the school had a dismal record. The last winning season was 1995. It took Briles three years to have a winning season and get invited to a post-season Bowl Game.

In 2008—enter a new young quarterback that Briles recruited. His name was Robert Griffin III. At the end of his senior year he was named the Heisman Award winner. Suddenly a new crop of football players wanted to play for Baylor.

Briles had been known for developing quarterbacks. His success at this started when he coached high school football. He sent six of his high school quarterbacks to Division I colleges. His first time as a college head coach was with Houston—the school with whom he played three years. He took a program that hadn’t won a game for two years to a program that was invited to four bowl games in five years. Baylor then recruited him.

In Griffin’s senior year, Baylor was ranked 13th in the country. The same held true in 2013 when Baylor won the Big 12 Championship. The school won the Big 12 Championship in 2013—the first time it had done this outright since 1980.

On August 13th, 2014, Baylor’s new stadium, McLane Stadium, held its first game. It was a few months after Griffin won the Heisman that Baylor’s Board of Regents decided to build a new stadium. The $266 million stadium was the site for Game Day festivities. Students started camping out at 11 a.m. on Friday for a chance to be part of the 800 students who would be part of the “mosh pit” for the Game Day crowd.

At 6:45 p.m. Saturday night Briles would be leading the Baylor Bears against K State in the new 45,000 seat stadium hoping to be named as one of the four teams who would play for the national championship in early January. Who would have thought that we’d be part of such a cool spectacle when we moved here in 2010?

Leadership.

Briles obviously is a leader. He is a great recruiter. He has a history of turning around football programs in both high school and college. Great players want to play for him because they know they might get a chance in the NFL. Those who aren’t good enough to get an NFL offer understand they will get a chance to play for one of the premier coaches and programs in the country.

What about you? Do great technicians and office people want to “play” for you? Do you attract the best?

Leadership doesn’t happen by accident. Hiring great people, who have a chance to work for your competitors, is no different that attracting great football talent at the collegiate level. Go back in your memory bank. Was there anyone you worked for in your past that you thought was a great leader and someone you wanted to work with?

I have a challenge for you this week. What do you need to do … what do you need to change … to attract the best? It took Briles three years to have a winning season at Baylor. Good things don’t come easy—great things take even longer. The commitment, however, at building a great team can start today. Go Bears!