I regularly get asked how I have accomplished so much at a young age. I don’t feel that young. I’m 44 and feel like I’m 75 in CEO years. But I see their point. I have run multiple businesses, created startups, sold companies and have been a public company CEO for 5 years. I’ve been running businesses since I was 22. So, I guess it’s a fair question when people want to know how I did it and what I’ve learned.
I readily admit that I have learned far more from my failures than my successes. But there are some golden rules I think rise above all others for me. Some principles that stick out. When asked “what’s the most important thing a new business leader should know?” at a recent college I was lecturing at, I had to really think hard about my answer. I realized it’s not just one thing. I did what I think a good business leader should do: I made a list.
1. Surround yourself with talent.
I’ve always tried to hire people who are smarter than I am. I never hold them back from promotion or even moving on to other companies. If my company can be a breeding ground for talent, I will always have fresh players on the bench. Never settle for mediocrity, seek talent!
2. Embrace Integrity.
A sense of fairness and honesty must flow from your organization like a spring of fresh water. Every player must feel that the company always has his back. Employee, vendor or customer, all must feel that the organization operates with the highest level of strong ethics.
3. Train your replacement.
Too many business leaders get comfortable in their current jobs and forget (or refuse) to train the next person in line. That will absolutely freeze success in its tracks.
4. Work hard, but work smart.
A good example should be set by a leader. Few employees will work harder than their boss. Most just aren’t that self-driven. But even more important is working smart. Delegate appropriately (remember that talent you hired!) and spend less time on ventures, projects or ideas that don’t support your core mission or goals. Work hard on the tasks that create the most value. That’s focus!
5. Never be afraid of a failure or a mistake.
Good businesses don’t thrive by playing it safe. And failure is a natural risk when you push the limits and try new ideas. But failures can also lead to huge leaps in efficiency and profitability. Take some thoughtful risks and study a failure thoroughly to discover the little jewels of knowledge and experience that you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise! It’ll make you and your organization better!
I’ve never run a perfect business, but I have run some that I was very proud of and would stack up against any competitor. These 5 little rules were always present when my companies were growing and performing at their best. They may seem pretty simple and almost elementary. But you would be surprised how often they are left out of business plans and strategies. So go back to these “Basics.” Pun intended.
T.M. “Roe” Patterson is one of the industry’s youngest CEOs, and a 23-year veteran in the oil and gas services business. Moving from his dad’s family business to Basic Energy Services in 2006, he was later named Top Public Company CEO by the Fort Worth Business Press in 2014. His first book, “Crude Blessings” is available on Amazon. 25% of the proceeds from the sale of the book will go to the Alzheimer’s Association.