Leaders surround themselves with good people. The story of Shakespeare's Globe Theater teaches us that whether it's friends, family, colleagues, or employees, the influences in your business are the foundation you will either rise or fall upon.
When Shakespeare started the first Globe Theater it was a business venture fraught with obstacles. Their old theater contract had run out, the lease on their land was up, and they had to relocate. Shakespeare and his friends literally moved the building to a new site one board at a time in the middle of winter walking around protestors as they worked. The new theater would be a brand new venture, free from the constraints of the old one and represented a massive source of opportunity for the playwright. However, they were not without enemies or obstacles including financial ones, so the business could have just as easily folded under, rendering Shakespeare just some other old English name no one ever heard about. Instead, he's an internationally known phenomenon lauded as the best playwright in the history of the English language.
What made the difference? Historians today attribute the success of the Globe theater to the fact that Shakespeare was in such good company.
Shakespeare was aligned with a network of contemporary playwrights who all consulted with, and stole ideas from, each other when building their plays. They sourced their ideas from proven experts. Additionally, the 5 men Shakespeare went in with to purchase and startup The Globe Theater were all the best at their jobs. Acting, writing, and other jobs of running a theater–Shakespeare partnered with men of proven worth.
When he was writing his plays, he wrote them with the best of the best actors in mind. Each player was good at a set of particular strengths—one was a great comic, another was a great hero, and still another an excellent villain. He evaluated the strengths of his team objectively and built a strategy upon them with great intentionality, resulting in a company that excelled as a cohesive whole.
That’s what you want to do as a leader. First, you want to work with people who are the best of the best at what they do and second, you want to make sure the voices speaking into your life are ones that need to be there.
Here are 4 strategies you can use to surround yourself with good people.
Define what “best” means to you.
What areas of your business are you hiring out right now? Does someone schedule your social media for you? What about a house cleaning service—do you hire someone to take care of the bathrooms? What about a babysitter or even your Internet provider? All of these areas are things you’re trusting someone else to handle for you and if it’s handled badly, or not to your satisfaction, the time you’ll take to fix it and make it right is time taken away from running your company. It matters that each of these things, no matter how small, is hired out to a service or individual that can work to your standards. Take time to define those standards for yourself.
Seek out services or individuals who meet your standards.
This is an area where cheapest isn’t always best. Of course, if you’re satisfied with the lowest tier and it gets the job done well for you, then hooray! However, don’t make the final decision on who to hire, or what company to work with, based on price. Choose a company that can deliver work up to your standards on time, with integrity, and without needing you to follow up or fix anything afterwards. The extra money you make because you’re able to focus on your business instead of managing the area you hired out, will be worth any additional investment to get a well done job the first time.
Pay attention to what you’re intake is on information.
This one is more about what you read or listen to rather than someone you hire. In this area of your “leadership network” it’s about defining good people to inform your choices. When you establish someone you know to be an expert, and you decide to trust their opinion, you will make decision influenced by their thoughts. Ending up in a situation where you regret having listened to a supposed expert that steers you wrong is not something you can definitely prevent, but you can certainly avoid it. Choose to read books by proven leaders, listen to podcasts and watch videos from people whose work bears out their message. Pay attention to who else follows them and what kind of people make up this person’s following. Make sure the information you’re letting into your mind is going to move you forward.
Make good friends.
I’m not saying cull out your Facebook friends list. What I am saying is that you should watch your time. Spend time and influence with people who spur you to be the person you’re trying to become. People will either drain you or motivate you and there’s not much in-between. Look at your relationships objectively and start strategically focusing your time on the people whose influence in your life is a positive one.
You read about “Shakespeare’s Globe” and while he was the leader of the group of players who performed there, the company was compiled of the best playwrights, actors, and businessmen of their day. Part of what made Shakespeare a good leader, and thus the Globe a successful venture, was that he paid attention to the people he worked with, and didn't waste time or effort on less than the best.
As you choose your network of friends, colleagues, and employees, choose people whose work ethic matches your own, whose expertise enhances your brand, and whose strengths bolster your weaknesses.
That's the way a leader chooses friends.
Want to grow as a leader? You need to be reading Shakespeare.
One of the best ways to learn from experts is to read their stories. Reading can open up doors to connections, lessons, methods, and perspectives that you can't get anywhere else. You're not likely to be able to sit down with William Shakespeare and ask him over tea about what it was like to run a startup venture in 1599, but you can read books on that subject and learn from his experience. If you want to read great leadership books consistently, learn the lessons they have to offer, and be connected with an accountability group that makes sure you are taking action on those lessons, then you want to check out The Leadership Book Club. We read Shakespeare, and other great authors, to learn how to grow as leaders today. Click the button to find out more.