When young entrepreneurs gain success they are often pushed aside for more experienced executives. The trick to staying in the driver's seat is being open to good coaching. You have to apply what you learn and keep up with those around you.
George Bousis, founder and CEO of Raise.com, takes coaching very seriously. Named onto Forbes 30 under 30 last year, Bousis needs his people to grow fast to support his fast growth company. And he has to grow faster so he can stay in charge. With more than 300 employees and growing, Raise.com has thousands of daily transactions helping people buy and sell unused gift cards.
Bousis, a member of YPO, attributes his fast and early success to hiring an executive team that is smart and experienced. Of course that means he has to be a coachable CEO if he wants to stay on top. Here are 6 techniques Bousis uses to be open and coachable so that he can grow and develop alongside his team.
1. Have the Right Mindset
Some leaders get hung up on hierarchy, and think feedback should be a one-way stream that only flows down. Bousis disagrees. "You have to be willing to take feedback from your team. A lot of people get offended with criticism, but those people never grow. I know that there are a lot of people on my team that are smarter and more experienced than me and I want to learn from those people." Train yourself to crave feedback from the gifted people you lead.
2. Hire People who Challenge You
Bosses sometimes forget that talent is only one facet of a great employee. They should also be willing to speak up when they have a solution to share or see a mistake being made. "Make sure you have people around that are smarter than you. They should tell you when you are wrong. There is no point in having a bunch of 'yes' people around. Those people hurt you," Bousis insists.
3. Seek Out Multiple Opinions
"I don't just go to one person. I go to several," Bousis says. "I have a series of mentors in different areas. Some for strategy, others for communication. My mother is one of my mentors. She helps me with the emotional and mental part of life because she knows that part of me better than anyone else. She constantly reminds me that I need to remain who I am despite success."
According to Bousis, listening means more than simply hearing others when they talk. It's a process that involves several steps: absorbing information, considering it carefully, and then acting appropriately. "Not a lot of people understand the importance of just taking in the information being given to you and then processing it. No need to react immediately, especially to the criticism. Just learning to listen is a major step forward."
5. Have an Open Door Policy
Bousis knows that others will only share wisdom when they feel you are open to hearing what they have to say. "I like to make others feel like they can be my mentor, like they're having an impact on my life and the company's." His specific strategy includes meeting with executives every two weeks to gather their thoughts, and to get feedback from other leaders in the company once a month. The team also works with an outside executive coach/facilitator who sits in on team meetings.
6. Make Time for Self Reflection
Self-examination is also an important part of Bousis's growth and development regimen: "When I'm alone late at night, it's a good time to be realistic and not let the ego get the better of me. I can take in everything that has happened recently and question where I need to grow or improve and whether someone is there that can help me do that."
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