07/22/2013 05:27 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Great Businesses Are Not Managed, They Are Led


I recently wrote an article titled "Business Should Always Be Personal." I wrote that we need to maintain our humanity in business -- to maintain our personal relationships with your team members, clients, and vendors. Another small business owner, lets call him "Steve", challenged this idea. It was his assertion that businesses are nothing more than the sum of their numbers. Steve further argued that business owners need to "stay above the fray", and that personal or emotional leadership has no place in business beyond front line employees and perhaps middle management.

Of course I agree with Steve that we need to know our numbers and use those numbers to manage our business. Yet our businesses are not the sum of a series of spreadsheets. This is where my ideas on small business leadership may differ greatly from Steve or many other small business owners. Most people want to create a business that will continue to run long after they are gone. And of course we can create systems and processes that allow our businesses to create consistent results. And your business should be able to live on past you. If you took the time to grow the leaders in your organization, if you took the time to share with them your unique style of leadership, your mission, vision, and values, the leaders that follow you in your business will be able to make decisions and the lead the business as if you were still there. Your job is not to develop managers to take your place, but to develop leaders who share your passion.

Great businesses are not managed; they are led.

The difference between leadership and management is all about people and getting the very best of them. Great leadership elicits an emotional response from your team members. Of course they are not working for free. They are being compensated for their time and efforts. Yet inspired employees can create extraordinary results. Leadership unites your team members toward a common goal that is greater than the sum of each team members' individual efforts. Something more is created.

At Better Life Maids, that goal is to delight our clients. We use Net Promoter Score or NPS to measure our results and manage our goals. Entire books have been written on the topic of NPS and its relevance to a company's success. In a nutshell NPS measures customer loyalty. We don't use other companies in our category to benchmark our results. We use industry leaders like USAA (banking),, Apple, and Trader Joe's. We benchmark against these companies because they have taken the idea of customer loyalty to new levels, and are leaders in creating extraordinary results. We see see Better Life Maids as not just a leader in the residential house cleaning field, but a leader in the concept of the importance of developing an emotional bond to our clients, and developing long-term loyalty. NPS is a fundamental leadership and management process that drives business results. It is a management process in that it allows you to track results and drive constant improvement. It is a leadership tool in that it allows you to share with your individual team members their results and ways they can better serve their clients. It allows you to provide them objective ways they can improve to better serve their clients, and live the mission, vision, and values of your brand.

So management and leadership overlap in practice, and great companies like USAA,, Apple, and Trader Joe's recognize this fact. You need to know your numbers. However these numbers are only a representation and measurement of leadership. You have to inspire your people to believe in your company's mission, vision, and values to help them fulfill your management goals.

Creating great leadership in your small business is within reach. Create an environment that rewards great work, challenges, and celebrates calculated risks. If your leadership is right, you will attract great talent to your company. Great team members will buy into your culture, and that culture will drive customer loyalty.

Better Life Maids has amazing team members. I am always flattered by the quality of our staff. As the leader of my company, my door is always open to them. Of course they don't report directly to me, and my overall responsibilities do exceed many of the day-to-day issues that they encounter and need to solve. Yet I want them to know me personally. I want them to understand my vision for Better Life Maids and how I see them as a critical piece of that mission. I want them to understand my passion for our business and why I get up every day ready to work and serve our business. This is probably the most important thing I do as the leader of my business My people are my company's most valuable asset and their individual worth could never be totally measured by figures and statistically values measured in spreadsheets.

Leadership is all about people. Lead your people, and the numbers WILL follow.