If the idea of successfully managing a business excites you, then it is consequential to know the reality behind it. It takes more than just effort to succeed in industry–more than that, it demands consistent unwavering tenacity and determination to face every adversity that comes your way.
Your unflappability will be tested often, but it will not be as difficult to flourish once you hold the right frame of mind in addition to the skills necessary to run a business successfully. While a lot of teamwork is involved, each person in that team should be focused on the same goals.
Imagine collaborating with people who also want to thrive and understand what it takes, which increases the overall likelihood of achieving favorable results. On discussing leadership and business, Michael Canzian is a good resource on the subject.
With his years of experience and expertise in handling an array of companies varying from entrepreneurial ventures to large corporate entities, he certainly knows the ins and outs of running companies.
We asked a number of questions hoping to learn the key characteristics of strong leadership in a business setting. Here’s how he answered our questions on leadership:
What are the most important attributes of successful leaders today?
Michael Canzian: The art of leadership in the business world, which can differ vastly from country to country, has evolved significantly over the last five decades. I would add that the United States has taken the lead in many ways as to the form and substance of leadership that is slowly expanding beyond its natural borders. In the past, command and control was the operative leadership style.
In fact, I would venture to say that if one did not express themselves in a forceful way, the ability to rise in rank in any organization was in jeopardy. In the United States today, leaders seek to find ways to be supportive and approachable while working hard to empower their teams to succeed with as little oversight as possible.
Balancing firmness and fairness, as well as expressing a humanistic quality that is empathetic and supportive of team members, is essential to advancing one’s career as a leader in the modern age. Leading by example and taking responsibility for team performance – not passing the buck– is a hallmark of good leadership.
If you find that you are stuck in a rut and unable to inspire your team, take a look in the mirror and ask yourself whether you are the best leader that you can be. We can all improve and no one is perfect, so focus on continuous improvement, be willing to accept 360-degree feedback from your stakeholders, and commit to a new you. You can do it!
How would you describe your leadership style?
Michael Canzian: I believe in empowering my team to perform at the highest level, and it is my responsibility to support individuals’ personal developmental goals to enhance themselves to achieve both personal and company goals.
There is nothing better than seeing individuals and teams perform at a high level to reach goals. It is also important for the leader to understand that the team deserves the praise and glory for high performance and success – not the leader. If my team is successful and happy, then I am doing my job properly. Go team!!
How did you develop your strong leadership skills?
Michael Canzian: Like many of us, my leadership style has evolved over time from various experiences. I have read many books on leadership, which provided insights and an opportunity to challenge one’s way of thinking and committing oneself to continuous improvement.
I have also honed my style having worked with both poor and excellent leaders in my career. The best learning comes from those who you do not want to emulate. It is remarkable just how rude, self-centered, egotistical, and incompetent leaders can actually be. I never want to be described in any of these terms, so I have always subscribed to working hard, being a consummate professional even in the most difficult times, always leading by example, never shying away from difficult decisions, and always be accountable.
How do you continue to grow and develop this?
Michael Canzian: The benefit of growing older is expanding one’s life experiences. By challenging yourself in all facets of leadership- whether it be in business or deciding to chair a not-profit organization without pay or praise – always give as much of yourself as possible.
All organizations need positive role models who place their missions and teams above themselves. Returns on investment will come to you in the end in ways you never thought possible. Always try to do the right things and make the right moves for nothing other than selflessness
What values are most important to you as a leader?
Michael Canzian: The most important traits of a strong leader include humility, good listening skills, willingness to sacrifice personally for the team and the organization, and of course performance. No matter what you do in life, results count, so learn to celebrate the wins as they come and give those around you the credit they deserve.
In a similar manner, we continued to delve deeper into the industry. Here’s how he answered our questions on business:
What defines a successful business?
Michael Canzian: I have been fortunate in my career to experience many places, cultures, and industries, and there is meaning and value to it all. A successful business comprises many things aside from the core metrics of strong financial and operational performance, which of course are essential. Fundamentally, a successful business has been able to determine the role it plays in its marketplace. Their clients and customers value the product/service the business provides.
The business treats customer service as a core foundational block to its livelihood and makes it a top priority. It remains open to new growth opportunities and knows how to plan and execute accordingly. It also never overstates its importance and remains humble and grateful.
I should also add that sometimes the least sexy business can be the best business in every respect. One should not let the glitter of a particular industry unduly dissuade or blind them from considering other industries and environments that offer great opportunity and career fulfillment.
What do you think are the essentials in building a business?
Michael Canzian: The brass tacks in business always comes down to cash flow. Whether you are a start-up or a mature business, cash position and cash flow are fundamental to any decision you make, whether it is to build a new product, start a new service, open a new business line or close one.
Businesses need to know their numbers and be able to manage cash flow at all times. The saying “cash is king” is an absolute truth in business.
How do you align your organization with your vision and mission?
Michael Canzian: Many organizations fail to realize the importance of a corporate vision, mission, and values. I have learned that no matter what type of business I become involved with, it always starts with assessing and updating the VMV.
I have seen many past examples where an outdated vision statement hampers creative thinking and stifles growth. It is a cathartic and exhilarating thing for management teams to expand the vision of the company and to think “blue sky” in the process.
I can honestly say that in every engagement in which I have come to lead an organization, the main constraint to growth and expansion is being limited by a vision that is neither current nor big enough to allow the organization to reach heights never thought possible. Similarly, once your vision statement is set, an updated look at the organization’s mission (the “how”) is equally important, followed quickly by the organization’s values.
The corporate value structure drives both organizational and individual performance in a way that drives accountability and results, and keeps the organization honest as to the who, what, when, where, and how business should be conducted. A sort of moral compass together with deliverables. Values can also prioritize the importance of having a corporate culture that is positive, fun, and rewarding.
How do you overcome business challenges?
Michael Canzian: As in any crisis situation, leadership makes all the difference when challenges arise , and one thing you can bet on is that they will happen . One of the biggest attributes a leader can exhibit in difficult situations is positivity. Stay mentally strong and stoic, remain dedicated to winning, and never give up.
Tenacity is so essential in leading an organization and team through adversity, so lead by example and never let them see you sweat. Your strength and attitude will permeate the situation and the inertia of a team dedicated to solving and overcoming challenges will breed confidence to succeed when future challenges surface. The saying “it is lonely at the top” epitomizes the leader’s responsibility on the matter, and it comes with the territory and is not for the faint of heart.
What motivates you in establishing and maintaining a business/organization?
Michael Canzian: There is nothing better than creating a strategic plan and seeing an organization execute to meet and exceed the goals that were thought unlikely or impossible. The team deserves the credit for the successes, and the organization will become thirsty and confident to know that it can do anything in the future. I just like to sit back on the sidelines and revel in the team’s success when aspirational goals are met. Awesome!
Based on his answers, his passion for business is unmistakable. The clear indication of the knowledge he holds around the topic substantiates the reason as to why he was able to achieve success. Aside from essential skills and performance, willingness to improve, leading with compassion, being humble yet determined, and having courage will direct you to a successful path.
Hence, if you are looking for a sign to start that business or needing more inspiration to continue going, then his advice should serve as a jumpstart. Just bear in mind that motivation will push you to start, but passion and discipline will keep you going.