As we grow our companies, we often forget the value of having downtime or activities other than business. As we see each other at networking events, a common conversation is comprised of how busy we are. But does busy equal profitable? Does busy equal productive? Why do we all want to be busy? The concept of ‘unplugging’ isn’t foreign in theory but in practice, it seems almost impossible. Will setting quiet hours for ourselves really be a detriment to our business or is the lack of time away causing more harm than good?

I find that business owners spend most of their time working on (or in) their companies, focused on growth and scalability. They then spend the rest of their time with family and friends, usually to make up for being absent due to work. In that equation, how much time do they have for themselves? Ask yourself – how much time do you spend on nonwork/non-obligation activities?  Do you have a hobby that is yours and yours alone? Do you pursue education or opportunities for growth outside your current set of skills? Do you goof off? Most importantly, do you have fun?

I’ve often said, if you aren’t having fun, then, why do it? While not every day is a picnic if you have taken on the role of CEO/Leader/Owner and you find yourself hating it, ask yourself why. What aspects of leadership are causing you anxiety? Is there something you can do outside of work to combat the stress? If you’re finding excess pressure at work it is necessary to find a healthy outlet to help you remain focused and productive.

We all know that putting your eggs in one basket only leads to disaster. So why would you take that approach with the way you structure your work and life? If you need to, set aside time in your schedule for hobbies or activities that are completely unrelated to work. If you’re finding it hard to set aside that time, even for 30 minutes, take a look at your task load and decide if your mental health and happiness are worth a little delegating.

If you’d like to discuss some ideas or back-office delegation tactics email me at [email protected] and let’s have a conversation.

Leading Your Troops

Much has been written about management versus leadership.  There are many overly shared images about what characteristic leaders have versus those who are considered ‘just’ being a boss. Many books have been written on the subject yet we still find an abundance of poor leadership.

But what does it mean to be a leader in the GovCon world?

How can you lead a team of folks who mainly work on the government site and tend to identify with their customers (i.e. going native)?
How do you lead when your re-compete is up and you’ve got to reduce your team’s salaried personnel by 25% to win?
How do you enforce the rules and compliance in an overly regulated industry that doesn’t always make sense?
How do you continue to motivate and push your staff when you are beholden to 2% cost of living raises and a focus on keeping the multiplier down?

As you can already tell, there are a variety of situations that compound the already overwhelmed concept of leadership in GovCon. I believe there are many theories out there, but two common themes that have resonated with me are communication and authenticity.  At the heart of practically every conflict or issue in this world is communication.  If you cannot effectively communicate as a leader, even with the best intentions, you will fail.

What is effective communication?  Saying what you mean, leaving nothing for wild interpretation and being authentic in your message.  Hollow sentiments or glossing over issues will only come back to bite you.  Having hard conversations is never easy, but it’s part of the job.  If you must cut salaries to be competitive on a bid, say it.  Say it clearly and unequivocally.  Provide your rationale and allow for feedback, but make it clear that you are responsible for this decision. Take ownership and allow those looking to move on, an opportunity to volunteer if possible. Communication is vital but so is being authentic.

What is authenticity? Providing and promoting an image that is sincere and true to your character as a leader or a company.  Employees, stakeholders, partners and clients can all spot a fake.  You can fake it for a bit, but eventually your true colors come out and the damage will be near-impossible to correct.  Instead of hiding your personality, embrace your strengths, and be yourself. The effort that it takes to hide or cover your personality can be better spend on leadership decisions and building a reputation on trust and authority. It is much easier to act on the truth than it is to remember and perform on a fallacy.

Regardless of your journey to leadership once you find yourself in a position of authority focus on solid communication and reputation based authenticity. Most companies that find themselves consistently winning awards and crushing the re-compete are those that excel in communication and authenticity. To effectively lead your troops into the GovCon space you must be clear and focused, always.