I co-founded Sideways8 seven years ago. At the time I would have told you I knew what I was doing as a leader. Now, seven years later, I realize how little I knew. Reflecting on that time and comparing it to now, here are seven things I do today that I didn’t do then.

  1. Cast vision. I think this is the first and most important thing a CEO can do, cast a vision for how the organization will grow and where it will go. When I first started Sideways8 the vision was simply to survive. Now that we have a team of ten, I have a much clearer vision for aggressive growth and how we are going to get there.
  2. Listen attentively. I used to be a terrible listener. I would look at a person without interrupting them, but I would constantly be thinking about my next response to them rather than taking in what they were saying. Now I realize that communication is 80% good listening and 20% clear informing. As a leader, I want to be an amazing listener.
  3. Do Less. When we first started Sideways8, I did a lot. I was the designer, occasional developer, support person, project manager, etc. As we grow, I do less and less. I’m just now at the point where I don’t’ do tasks within the company at all. My team takes amazing care of the tasks and serves the clients well. I focus on growth only.
  4. Think about the future. A part of casting vision is thinking about the future, what is coming next, and how Sideways8 will respond. I now look much further out than I used to and it changed everything. When I’m planning for growth five years from now it dramatically impacts the decisions I make today and what our team does and does not take on.
  5. Build the team. When I first started Sideways8 my job was building websites. Today my job is building the team that builds websites (and does other digital marketing as well). If I get sucked into building websites, the team suffers, and then other work suffers. At this point, it has to all be about the team.
  6. Network. The value of networking was always clear to me, but now even more so. Almost all of the work we do is in some way or other the result of networking and relationships. As a leader one of the best things I can ever do is the building and fostering of great relationships that will ultimately help the business grow as well.
  7. Create content. A part of my leadership for the company is also thought leadership. By creating content both here and on sideways8.com my team can keep up with what I’m thinking about, understand more of the “why” behind where I want to go, and get on board with all of it. Creating content also helps to build my network and relationships as well, so it helps with networking, casting vision and team building.