In my twenty-plus years of service in the cleaning and restoration industry, I have yet to encounter a successful entrepreneur who has not at some point during his or her career attended at least one leadership-training program or conference. Based on personal participation, I can say that these conferences are well worth the time, money, and effort to go. The learning experience (not to mention the valuable networking) is unmatchable.
Visualize a crowded ballroom filled with cleaning and restoration professionals munching on decadent hors d’oeuvres, with the ambient sounds of plates clattering and cheerful chatter in the background. Then, the time that everyone is waiting for finally arrives. The keynote speaker strolls confidently onto the stage, microphone in hand, and the spotlights go up. The room quiets as he deliberately glances over his audience. Every ear is tuned in to what he is about to say.

“By a show of hands, who among us desires to be a great leader of men?” he asks. Considerable amounts of hands quickly rise, and the crowd is anxious to hear his next words. “By a show of hands, who among us is a great leader of men?” A few hands slowly raise and nervously lower back down. He goes on to discuss the answers he received.

He congratulates the people who excitedly raised their hands to the first question and reassures them that they are in the right place, and that they fit in with the overwhelming majority of entrepreneurs.

To the others who tensely crept their arms upward, fearing that they appeared weak among their peers, he encourages working toward developing more open lines of communication with coworkers and management. He stresses the importance of being a man first and a leader second–mistakes will be made, and expectations will not always be met.

Everyone is reminded that expectations must be realistic, as it is easy to lose motivation when goals seem unattainable. To the few who raised their hands to the second question, he applauds, saying, “These people represent a well-respected and revered minority of businesspeople, and I thank you for coming to my seminar to continue learning.” He goes on to flesh out the important areas of leadership and how it affects the life of a business.

Despite the tens of thousands of books and nationwide seminars about leadership techniques, effective leadership is an ability that many are incapable of understanding. More importantly, the business owner who struggles with directing employees must hire a manager with the leadership skills he or she lacks. Leadership, or the lack thereof, directly impacts every characteristic of a business.

Books and seminars are there to elaborate on all the different types of leadership styles so that entrepreneurs can better understand their personal management techniques from the vantage point of customers, prospective customers, and the community at large. The better these techniques are understood, the better the business owner can develop a unique service company that stands out among competitors. In addition, employees respect an empathetic employer.

Employees are the most valuable resource a company has, so healthy management-employee relationships combined with corrective action when necessary leads to sound decision making, whereby increasing the profitability and success of the business.