September 9, 2020

how to become a good business leader

You want your business to inspire people. But how do you become a great leader that does that?

…Come on, you got this! 

If you’ve answered the common suspects of ‘product, the right marketing strategy or investors’…

Uhm. Sorry, you’re out. 

But if you answered leaders, I like where your mind is at. 

Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos. Mark Zuckerberg. The white dudes who created the companies that control the world right now…

There would be no money made if someone else came up with the idea.

But hear me out. These bunch weren’t born to be leaders. 

No god came down upon Steve Jobs at his time of birth and slapped an Apple logo on his forehead. No monkey lifted dear ole Elon in a desert while singing Circle of Life. 

The leaders of the world right now, are where they are because they LEARNED–from science. 

From what makes people tick, to the psychology behind a sale. 

Facebook hijacks our brains every DAMN day to get us to use it as many hours possible in a day. 

Apple did the same thing, if only to get the world addicted to a phone that works half as well as other phones. 

So…why can’t you apply science to figure out how to become a great leader at your business too?

Regardless of whether you’re using it to start a business, or if you’re a senior VP something something in your career. 

Curious? Read on. 

Start With Why is a book by Simon Sinek (one of the most popular TED Talk speakers around, leadership expert to countries around the world, and NY bestselling author).

This book gets EVERYTHING right about all that I’ve noticed about leaders for the past decade (I just didn’t get around to writing a book about it, damn it). 

So let’s get into it. 

Hijack how they feel, not how they think. 

In Start With Why, Simon repeats time and time again that it’s in every human’s nature to feel like they belong. 

“We want to be around people and organisations who are like us and share our beliefs,” he says.

And as much as you think you’re a misunderstood hipster who hates parties and being around people…YA DON’T. 

So, great leaders? Here’s how they hijack your brain. 

Steve Jobs personally wrote this own mission statement from Apple; 

“Apple is dedicated to the empowerment of man—to making personal computing accessible to each and every individual so as to help change the way we think, work, learn, and communicate.” 

And some marketing executive at Asus probably wrote this; 

“ASUS, a technology-oriented company with a global staff of more than ten thousand and blessed with one of the world’s top R&D teams, is renowned for high-quality products and cutting-edge innovation. As a leading company in the new digital era, ASUS offers a complete product portfolio to compete in the new millennium.” 

Two companies that are in the same industry, -electronics- yet only one of them is worth remembering. 

Nowhere does Steve Jobs come up with words like ‘R&D’ or ‘cutting-edge innovation’. 

Jobs taps into what humans want, that very primal need that even we might not know we need. 

“The empowerment of man.” That sentence alone makes me feel like Apple’s got my back (even though they’re robbing me dry with their prices). 

I run a digital workshop, and I emphasise how to become a great leader in each and every session of mine.

I tell my followers that above all, BIOLOGY is what’s going to get them a following. Not facts, not discounts, not even a cheaper price compared to competitors. 

Moral of the story? What’s rational to you as a message…isn’t necessarily the right one. 

Let’s say you’re promoting your laundry service business. 

Rational You writes – “Our business is open 24 hours a day, we have complimentary tea while you wait for your clothes and the lowest prices for 100 kilometres around!” 

Yawn. I’ve already left. 

Like I mentioned earlier. Don’t THINK. FEEL.

Better You writes – “We’re here for you day or night, rain or shine. Have a cup of tea with us, knowing that your clothes are in the best of hands.” 

See the difference? Every good leader/marketer will. 

(Just like every good marketer is going to include these tips in all their ads!)

Make leadership contagious. 

Unless you’ve mastered the ability to be in 50 different places at a time, there’s only one of you. 

And that’s why it doesn’t matter if you’re the smartest, most charismatic leader in the room. 

Because when you walk out of it, guess who’s left? 

It’s your employees (or would-be employees if you’re only thinking of starting a business). 

The people who didn’t pour their life savings into this business, or the people who have nothing to lose if this company just drives itself to the ground. 

So…why should they give a sh**? 

You can throw money at them, promise them 30 days in paid vacations. But in the absence of good leadership….

They still won’t know how to become a great leader in your absence.

Walmart is a great example of how a business goes wrong when employees are not prioritised. 

When Sam Walton (their founder) was running the show, he took Walmart from a small store in the middle of nowhere and turned it into a retail monster that was making $44 billion in sales/year. 

His secret? “We’re all working together, that’s the secret.” he said. 

True to that, Walmart wasn’t only known as the best place to shop in America…it was a place where employees sung their praises to anyone who would listen. 

That was before Walton he died. 

And when he did, so did a piece of Walmart. 

They confused their sense of WHY to only highlight ‘low prices’, which started a domino effect.. Fat cats up top took this as their green light to abuse the rights of employees, which led to them having over 73 lawsuits for wage complaints filed against them. 

73. And that was in 2008. God knows how many they’ve racked up now. 

In Start With Why, Simon labels Walmart’s failure as losing their sense of WHY. 

But I have another reason too. 

I don’t care what level he/she is, when I have an employee that comes to me with a super good idea, I listen. 

When I have an intern who wants to change the way our meetings are set up because they want to do it better–f*ck it, let’s do it. 

If my accountant, or my personal assistant has an idea about marketing (something neither of them have done a day in their life), I’m all ears and 200% focused on what they have to say. 

There is no SUCH THING as having to go through so many levels, red tape and Manager A, B or C to become a great leader.

Because in my business, we’re all LEADERS. 

Every single soul I hire is fully in-charge and responsible for whether or not my business makes our $6 million in revenue/year. 

We’re all responsible when someone messes up, or when something doesn’t get done when it’s supposed to be finished. There is no “X, Y, Z is supposed to handle it, blah blah blah.” 

We’re all in this SH*T together. 

And if you were to ask me, the worst thing a business owner or entrepreneur when trying to become a great leader is to put too much focus on f*cking titles. 

Even Brighter Side: 

Making leadership contagious is how I’m able to go on holiday for a month, two months. 

Turning my phone off for days at a time, and still come back to finding that my team has exceeded our sales expectations by 5x. 

To become a great leader…it has nothing to do with being likeable, or being funny and easy to talk to.

(LOL. Have you seen a Mark Zuckerberg interview? 

He can’t say one sentence without looking like his brains are overcooking.) 

But it has everything to do with understanding your company’s purpose (which I show you how to do here, and charge more in the meanwhile!). 

Knowing what you know right now…are you ready to lead your own business into the future?

About the author 

Reeve Yew

Reeve is the CEO and a Member of Forbes Business Council.

He has spoken on stages, both online and offline, alongside world class entrepreneurs and marketers like Gary Vaynerchuk, Brian Tracy, Kevin “Shark Tank” Harrington and Mark “Godfather of Internet Marketing” Joyner.

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  1. If you ask me, companies obsessed with sales, too much marketing and just trying hard to follow trends will slowly die off. Like you said, Reeve, only those with a GOOD MESSAGE will stay on 🙂

  2. Reeve! Another entrepreneur that makes an awesome leader is none other than Richard Branson…Listening to him speak (full of energy) is contagious and always refreshing to hear his two cents!

    1. Worked 3 years in a company with a micromanaging boss. Never let any staff make impromptu decisions or think for themselves, everything had to go through her.

      Don't know where they are now, but could've benefited reading this article LOL.

  3. "To become a great leader…it has nothing to do with being likeable, or being funny and easy to talk to." AGREE so much with this.

    A lot of crappy YouTube videos will ask you to 'practice on charisma', be funny, be more dominant, etc etc.

    I've been in meetings with million-dollar leaders, and some of them are boring as a stick. But they still bring millions each month.

    I feel like this article really captures how they get that done!!

  4. The mark of a good leader is someone that has loyal followers. It's not the loudest person in the room, or the one with the most money.

    Good writeup, and think this analysis was quite spot on!

  5. BOSS vs. LEADER. I know which one I'd rather have! Too many bosses nowadays, and jerks that micromanage.

    I like your insights Reeve, its very refreshing as well

  6. I would like to add one thing, Reeve. Sometimes bosses think that 'salary' or 'health benefitsundefinedvacations' is what's needed to build a company…All good things to have, but that doesn't make it okay to keep throwing it at people and hoping that it makes you a good leader.

    Also, I agree with finding the WHY. Love reading Simon Sinek's stuff, and you broke it down real good

  7. I lead a small team about 5, always worried about whether or not I can live up to their expectations.

    How to become a great leader doesn't even cross my mind, it's always how I don't disappoint them lol.

  8. Interesting way of seeing it. The book was actually just about companies, but I like how you applied it to peopleundefinedemployees too!

  9. "In my business, we're all leaders."

    Agreed! The hierarchy is there for decision-making, but every employee should feel like they are in charge of their own success.

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