October 26, 2011 // Franchising.com // Leaders are all around us. We vote for leaders, we employ and are employed by leaders, and for those with the ability to identify opportunities and act upon them, we become leaders. With more than 24 years in the franchising business, one of the most common questions I am asked is, “How can I become a great leader?”
"A leader is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind." -- Nelson Mandela
The first bit of advice I give when asked what qualities are necessary for one to become a great leader is this: you must be able to see the entire picture. Generals do not lead from the front lines, but from vantage points where information can be attained, decisions made and action initiated. Successful leaders lead with eyes and ears wide open. Only when you are able to see, assess, and analyze a situation are you able to seize opportunities and take control the way a leader would. This is especially true in business, and even more so in franchising.
"The best kind of leader: one who creates independence, not dependence." – Gloria Steinem in her 1992 book Revolution From Within
As a leader it’s important to ensure that the decisions you make and the way you lead empowers others to be leaders themselves. You see, effective leaders are actually teachers. This is also a lesson in efficiency because the more independent you make those who follow you, the more time you can spend doing more, achieving more, and setting and reaching new goals. In many ways this is what franchising is all about—leaders empowering leaders—and this approach to leadership in business is what has helped make FirstLight and it’s franchisees so successful
"The leader can never close the gap between himself and the group. If he does, he is no longer what he must be. He must walk a tightrope between the consent he must win and the control he must exert." -- Vince Lombardi
This may be the most difficult achievement for any leader to make. The best leaders care greatly for those who follow them, but never to the point where their professional judgment is compromised, ultimately leading to poor decisions for the business and the team. So how do you walk this tightrope? The best advice I can give is that every group dynamic is unique unto itself, and every leader must exert the right amount of control and distance to maximize results among that group, all the while ensuring a sense of teamwork and unity never dies. Accomplishing this, my friends, is what will define you as a leader.
Leaders are all around us taking control, seizing opportunities, and empowering those they lead with the skills to become leaders themselves. No matter what business you are in and no matter your goals, being a leader is in you. My only question is, from one leader to another, “How will your leadership be defined?”
Jeff Bevis is President & CEO of FirstLight HomeCare. Jeff has more than 24 years of experience in franchising and a very successful record of accomplishment accelerating growth in a variety of franchise concepts, including senior management leadership developing an earlier concept in senior care industry. He has earned the Certified Franchise Executive (CFE) designation, meeting rigorous requirements from the franchising industry with a trademark reputation for building strong, trusting relationships with franchisees and enabling strong unit economics at the franchise level to build system success.
FirstLight HomeCare creates a new standard in non-medical, in-home care customized for seniors, new mothers and those recovering from illness, injury or surgery. The demand for high-quality in-home care is at an all-time high, with more than 12 percent of Americans over 65 and wanting to remain independent for as long as possible. FirstLight HomeCare combines best practices of a dynamic senior leadership team with more than 110 years of collective senior care experience and innovative approaches to make this franchise an emerging market leader in a fast-growing industry. FirstLight HomeCare franchises have exclusive access to Foundation FirstSM, the best-in-class franchise support system bringing together 26 franchise essentials, unmatched in the industry. Prime territories are going quickly, for more information please visit www.firstlightfranchise.com. Follow CEO Jeff Bevis on Twitter @jbevisfranchise and read his blog TheIndependenceBlog.com.