When I was a teenager, my older brother and I worked together fixing televisions. We drove around to customers’ homes and supplied them with new tubes (back when box tv’s required them). I enjoyed it, but the winter was a challenge. I always sat in the truck while my brother visited with the customers. Much to his amusement, by the time he would get back to the truck I was basically a frozen, shivering ball with frosted eyebrows and purple fingers.
As much as I hated the cold trips, my first real business exposure was in that truck with my brother. I have come a long way from the young boy selling television tubes. I have now been with Credential Leasing and Financing for thirty-one years. Running the family business has been a source of great pride and joy for me, but it certainly hasn’t come without its challenges. Luckily, I have learned a few things along the way:
- Trust your people – Probably one of the most important things I have learned as a business leader is to trust my employees. There is nothing more stifling to an organization than a leader who isn’t willing to loosen the reigns and let their people do what they were hired to do. A leader with an exaggerated sense of responsibility and a lack of trust will demoralize a team just as quickly as a leader who is uncaring and unforgiving. My job gets a lot easier when I trust my team.
- Leave space for creativity – Business grows when teams have the liberty to take creative risks. I know that sounds nice but depending on your business, it can be hard to make that space. If you make room for creativity, you also make room for failure. The way you respond as a leader when your team fails determines if they will take a creative risk again.
- Treat everyone with respect – This is simply the golden rule. And I live by it. If I treat my employees with respect, then they treat our clients and partners with respect as well. It is a self-perpetuating circle that I want to keep going around.
I believe people make all the difference. I’ve had the opportunity to travel to many places. I’ve climbed Arizona mountains, explored the lush Hawaiian tropics, swam in crystal clear Caribbean oceans, and walked the old stone streets of many European countries. Yet my favorite place in the world is at home with my family. Many of my employees will tell you the same thing about themselves. And that’s because we value people. So, whether I am sitting with my family at the dinner table, walking through the office on a Monday morning, or talking on the phone with a customer, it all comes down to honoring the person in front of me.
And in my opinion, there’s no better way to run a business.
– Andy Schwab