It’s that time of year in the National Football League for teams that fired their head coaches to seek out replacements.

It’s normal that “hot” and innovative offensive and defensive coordinators get first looks to revitalize a team. There is that desire to find the next hidden gem.

The former two-time Super Bowl winning coach, Bill Parcells said something that caught my attention. He said that while there were certainly people at the coordinator level that had the resumes to make a successful coach; that being highly skilled, innovative, and smart (maybe even brilliant) wasn’t the most important job of the leader.

Parcells opined that the most important job of the head coach was to be able to walk in front of a room of players and “command the room.” This head coach needs to be able to motivate, influence, and guide people. The head coach needs to be able to sit on a stool next to any player – regardless of position or temperament – and be able to communicate on a level that advances understanding, expectations, discipline, and encouragement.

In other words, the most important and crucial skill that an NFL head coach needs is less technique and more influence. They need to command the room.

Now, substitute the words CEO, President, and Boss for head coach…

Most small business owners got to where they are because they founded or were born into the business. They often had the skill that created the product or service. They bootstrapped the business, they grew the business, they inherited the business, and they may have became a successful entrepreneur.

The problem is that this doesn’t automatically mean they can influence and lead people.

They may have great abilities in creating products and delivering services; they may be able to deftly grow the financial statement. But can they do what Parcells believes all head coaches need to do? Can they command the room?

In my experience, this is the most important “skill” CEOs must have, and for many in the small and medium size business world, it’s the least intuitive. It doesn’t come naturally and it can devolve into a “command and control” mode.

What do your employees think of you? Will they metaphorically run through a wall for you, or prefer to throw you up against one? Are you someone who leads through influence and strong communication skills?

A person who leads without followers is just a person walking alone. A real leader must be able to advance ideas and influence people. The best CEOs know this and constantly get help to grow this most important skill in order to successfully build their business and enhance the lives and potential of their employees.

Are you commanding the room?

Quote of the Week:

The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself.”

~ Mark Caine (American writer)

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