For all the talking and writing that people do about leadership, it remains a confusing--some might say, muddy--subject:

What exactly is leadership?

How can you tell good leadership from not-so-good leadership?

What exactly does a leader do to earn and retain that moniker?

Are some people just born leaders, while the rest are out of luck?

Is leadership merely a function of charisma or personal magnetism, or are there specific strategies and responsibilities involved?

As you build your business, there are really only two paths you can take: the clear path or the muddy path.

The clear path relies on clear leadership; muddy leadership will take you down a muddy path.

In a business that's on the muddy path, there is no order. Stuff gets done, or it doesn't get done. Leadership is consumed with being busy, busy, busy, overseeing and trying to control the inevitably uncontrollable mess and muddiness.

But, most notably, on the muddy path there is no clear Vision, no defined Purpose, and no compelling Story that would put everyone on the path to clarity.

This is why leadership is so absolutely critical to the success of any organization.

And this is why the Leader, possessing a strength that comes from within, must be clear about exactly what the business is intended to do--the results it has committed to deliver--and how it will get there.

But make no mistake, these qualities can absolutely be learned and cultivated.

So let's bring some clarity to it. First some of the basics:

  • A Leader needs to understand money: cash flow, the balance sheet, the income statement, budgeting, forecasting, and financial planning.
  • A Leader needs to understand the processes of lead generation, lead conversion, and client fulfillment--how to attract prospects, convert them into customers, and deliver a product or service that meets and exceeds their expectations--which begins with a deep understanding of who your customer is.
  • A Leader needs to understand people: how to recruit, hire, and fire them; how to establish standards of performance by which they'll be measured; and how to monitor, evaluate, and review their performance.

But leadership must go beyond these basic requirements if it is to transcend the commonplace.

If it is to create what I call a Great Growing Company™.

My new book coming out on December 7, 2016, Beyond The E-Myth--​The Evolution of an Enterprise: From a Company of One to a Company of 1,000!, talks about this notion of a Great Growing Company in more detail.

This book also describes what leadership needs to be and what it needs to do if it is to guide a business successfully from its beginnings through the stages of business evolution necessary to produce a true business enterprise--the stages that I refer to as the Hierarchy of Growth of an enterprise.

So, if the leadership in your organization is lackluster, and you're at a loss to figure out why, here are four essential components of the mission-critical function of leadership that will shift it into a higher and more profound level than most companies have ever considered, let alone achieved:

  1. Leadership must show the complete picture of the Enterprise once done, visually, emotionally, functionally, and financially.
  2. Leadership must show the culture that lives within that Enterprise, the spirit of it, the behavior of it, the standards of it, its raison d'être.
  3. Leadership must show the brand of that Enterprise, why it is positioned the way it is positioned, and the place it owns in the market it serves.
  4. Leadership must show the track each individual can pursue, from apprenticeship, to craftsmanship, to mastery...consistent with the mantra,"every small business a school."

It is this cultural phenomenon, this Enterprise as school, which creates "a community of aspiring individuals, each of whom is presented with the unparalleled opportunity to excel."

All of this is what leadership is about.

Muddy no more.