Before I could have a truly successful business, I had to go through a process of learning how to be a business leader and develop conscious methods to effectively guide my team toward success.
In the beginning, I was a micro-manager and a control freak. You would not have wanted to work with me or for me. As I realized how ineffective that style was, I started to think about what it would look like instead to be a macro-manager.
So I thought about what was most important to me, looking to create a high-level guideline that could both organize my workflow and align my team around core operating principles. A word that kept coming up for me was “focus,” as it refers to both presence and attention, and a point-of-view to rally around.
Over the past 25 years I’ve used the acronym I created for FOCUS as the basis of my leadership principle with a lot of success, both for me and the team members I’ve shared it with. At this point, it’s become part of who I am.
The key to allowing a guiding principle to truly shape your workflow is simple repetition. I used to have a poster of it hanging in my office, and now each morning begins with it coming up automatically in my Google calendar. It always sets the tone for my day and keeps me on track.
If you do something everyday and it starts to work well for you, then it will become embedded in your cells and a natural part of your routine. If you’re interested in grounding your leadership style in something powerful, I invite you to commit to starting your day with the FOCUS acronym for 21 days—or perhaps even 90 if you’re feeling really ambitious. Read on for my breakdown of exactly why these five FOCUS principles are so essential to my leadership style and Divine Living’s workflow.
Even before we relied heavily on computers and email, I had a lot on my desk every morning, and I needed a way to prioritize exactly what needed to be accomplished. “First Things First” reminds me to start the day by getting the most important things done immediately, and the other things neatly sorted—or deleted. So after my FOCUS reminder comes up on my calendar, I might spend 5-15 minutes meditating on that, and then I check my e-mail. I first go through and delete anything that’s obviously irrelevant. Then, I open each new message. If I see something that needs to be addressed immediately, I take care of it then and there. If it needs to get handled that day, I file it in folder A. If it’s that week, it goes in folder B. And if it can probably be done without, then I’ll put it in the C folder, knowing that it might not ever make the cut, and that’s okay.
I learned early on in business that new ideas are inevitable and practices change rapidly—whether you’re talking about the art of chiropractic or internet marketing. I knew it was vital to make sure I didn’t put myself or my business in a box, and so keeping an open-mind needed to be a guiding principle for everyone on the team. Especially as a business grows, and new employees come in from different organizations, it’s important to stay open to the unique ways they might do things, which could potentially contribute to taking the business to a higher level. Resistance to new modes of operating within any part of the team can quickly lead to discord, and little gets done when team members are unwilling to at least consider and try out a new perspective.
Strong communication is without a doubt one of the most important things a company needs to run at its highest level. Like any great sports team, the team should be able to communicate freely, regularly, and with clarity. There might be times when certain subjects are communicated only between certain team members, however information should be accessible whenever someone needs it. As a leader, I take it upon myself to be available for that, and my team knows that my door is always wide open. I say if there’s an issue, if something is needed, then please let me know. As a macro-manager, I want to empower each player to run their area as if it’s their own business. So when I give them a project, I don’t need to be involved in the details unless something is needed. If all goes smoothly, then we communicate when the project is finished to determine feedback and next steps.
Unity for me has always been important. I value loyalty in my team even above intelligence—I’ll do just about anything for anyone who is loyal to our company and to me, because I feel it’s essential to have that loyalty go both ways. Creating that level of trust really hinges on everyone having a unified vision and a solid purpose to buy into. With Divine Living for example, our vision is to empower women to change their lives, achieve financial freedom, and be able to make great contributions to the world. It’s a vision I can easily connect to, as it’s right-in-line with who I am, and my overriding purpose of making a difference in people’s lives. It’s also a fit for the women I work with, and it keeps our team aligned as we collaborate to produce all that we do. Always in business, a clear mission is essential to an atmosphere of cohesion and loyalty.
Systems are the foundation of all companies, and no great company operates with a weak one. However the way I like to think about this more operational, technical element is to build systems with soul. That means incorporating the values of compassion, love, and kindness, so that our system has flexibility and is not so strict that anyone need be “up against it.” A rigid system that creates barriers for human happiness, progress, or growth would of course not resonate with our other core values of unity and open-mindedness, or make Divine Living (or any company) a desirable place to work.