With no intent to boast or think more highly of ourselves than we ought, the Home Furnishings Association is an organization of leaders. On the pages of this magazine, you can read about members who have identified themselves or have been identified as being committed to leadership. The mere decision to tap into the experience, successes, hard-learned lessons and advice from others to help solve your business challenges is a sign of leadership.
Leadership characteristics are vital to running a successful business and living a successful life no matter how you measure success. The HFA understands that to be of most value to our members, we must facilitate the honing of your skills and practices to do business better. To that end, please consider these three characteristics that are found in leaders.
Leaders are innovative. Steve Jobs noted that, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” Innovation is not part of the past, only the future. The past is over. You should be better off because of what you learned but you can’t continue to live in what was. Leaders are on the watch for and are willing to redefine everything. If you rearrange your practices and policies, you create new ways, more effective ways, of doing things. You might be asking, “how many ways are there to help consumers furnish their homes?” Well, there are many ways consumers can acquire furnishings. Whether they are well served by what they acquire is another matter. You know things about the industry, merchandise, supply systems, and more, that can provide a superior solution. You just need to provide what you know in an irresistible way to your customers. It may be strengthening your online presence with more information about products that you have available so that your customers can streamline their decision-making process. It may be restructuring your delivery times to cause the least amount of interruption possible for your customer. Be fearless in questioning what you think you know. Purposeful innovation is powerful.
Leaders are decisive. Let’s face it: Leaders are the ones who make the decisions nobody else can (or wants to) make. Even if a decision is likely to be controversial, a final call has to be made and leaders have the courage to make it. If something isn’t working out you can correct your course but it’s a scary place to be when no one can make a decision. Putting plans in motion when they aren’t fully formed isn’t easy but when the plan isn’t clear, you depend on your intuition. Don’t miss an opportunity because you are analyzing data. Data may give you confidence and courage, but most great ideas do not reside in research. Remember, you are never more vulnerable than when you are on the fence. Even if you step in the pasture with the bull, you now know which side is safe!
Leaders are talent scouts. We all have limits—there is only one of us; we only have 24 hours in a day; we may not be an expert in everything. That last one may be a hard reality to swallow but it is empowering to embrace. You don’t have to know everything if you are a good judge of talent. A remarkable man I know told me that the key to his interesting and successful business life running many big projects was that he “knew” money and people. Finding the most talented people and making sure others see their talent leads to success. With enough talented people on your team, the big dreams you dream can be accomplished.
And that brings us back to the Home Furnishings Association. HFA is a group of leaders. We provide programs and services that free our members up to do what only they can do for their businesses—innovate, make decisions and search for talent. If you’re not already a member, I urge you to join HFA and become part of the greatest group of people you will ever meet.