The oft-neglected next step is to define a clear set of core principles to guide the execution of your vision and mission. They are especially necessary when the going gets tough and values seem to be in conflict.
Whether you call them commandments, pillars, or habits, your core principles guide your decisions and actions. The best of them are simply stated so they're easily understood and shared.
You can start with these essential core principles and make them your own. You can put them in your own language and even create cool, fancy posters and pins to promote them. But whatever you call them, here are the eight you need to follow:
1. Be self-aware.
Shakespeare was slightly off the mark when he wrote, "And this above all else; to thine own self be true." He missed the prerequisite to this admonition, which is: "Know thyself."
Leaders need self-awareness before they can live in self-alignment. Awareness breeds authenticity; alignment breeds integrity.
Leaders who don't know themselves can't effectively lead their teams. They put people in the wrong jobs, request productivity when people are out of alignment and not working in their strengths. Then you have a mad boss and unhappy employees, which is never the goal.
When you have extreme knowledge of yourself, your strengths, your weaknesses, your style and values--when you can say yes to the right things and no to the wrong things--it's much easier to lead.
Nobody wants to play follow the leader when the leader is playing hide and seek.
2. Take productive action.
Are you overwhelmed by all the stuff that's going on in your life, your world and your business? Get it out of your head and onto paper. Do a mind dump and ask yourself three key questions: "What's working? What's not working? What needs to change?"
Your answers will form the basis for prioritizing what needs to be cleaned up, changed, or eliminated. You can make a workable actionable plan to get unstuck and to the next level.
3. Use systems and routines to free your time and mind.
You need personal systems, like getting up and practicing self-care. Perhaps you'll take a walk every morning, or meditate, study or journal.
You also need business systems to produce your product, sell it, fulfill it, and support it. Heck, even how you answer the phone is a system. Both personal and business systems maintain your success and your sanity.
4. Great teams make great companies.
Once you have systems, you need people to run them. Building great teams requires the leader to have great knowledge about not only him or herself, but also about what motivates people to do good work, their skills and strengths.
You must put the right people in the right place on the team. After all, you wouldn't ask a left-hander to write an essay with their right hand, would you? Building teams is the same.
Don't ask an accountant to do a sales job just because you need someone to fill in. It won't work. Period.
5. Be a mindful leader.
Entrepreneurs love to run 1,000 miles per hour and expect everyone else to catch on and catch up. This is a surefire way to lose people, profits, and productivity.
Help and nurture those people around you. That includes your family as well as your company. Your people want to help you be successful. Don't let them down.
6. Leverage your resources.
All of your resources--human, time, money, energy, strengths, talents--can be leveraged. Ask yourself two questions: "How do I get this done without me having to do it?" and "What do my people need to help them help me?"
7. Stay safe online.
We are being socially engineered, manipulated and scammed at an alarming rate. Cyber bullying is rampant. It pays to educate yourself and your employees about the dangers of clicking on a malware-infested email that could take down your entire company, infect your computers, and put fear in the minds and hearts of your employees.
8. The big one you can't live without: Practice extreme self care.
You probably already know you have to be healthy to be sharp and clear-headed.
So, how's that working for you?
Most entrepreneurs don't worry about health until something huge happens that forces them to slow down, reevaluate, and reboot. For many, it's a life-threatening event that takes them all the way back to ground zero.
Don't wait until something bad happens. Start with the basics: eating, sleeping, and exercising. Do little things like having breakfast instead of skipping it. Take the stairs. Turn off electronics at a certain time. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier. You'll create habits that are easy, fun, and essential to your life.