Nine Steps In Your Leadership Performance Journey

Dr Richard Shrapnel PhD
6 min readNov 11, 2022
Photography by Patrick Fore on

As a business leader, the success of your business starts and finishes with your capability as a leader. If you are committed to making your business more successful every day, you must invest in it daily. And if that is to happen, you must invest in your and your leadership team’s capability daily. The challenge is knowing where that investment should be made.

Active Knowledge Question:

What do you focus on to grow your business?

The Journey

Great leaders are readers and learners. They are people who are always seeking to lead their businesses to greater heights. They are continually feeding their and their business’s creativity and passion. ‘Better every day’ is a mantra they adopt by continually searching for and absorbing new ideas and knowledge that will make their business, and them, more competitive.

Change is not a challenge. Change is who they and their business are. In their industry and for their customers, they are the catalyst of change always, day after day, lifting customer value to a new level.

They understand that there is such a thing as the right business for them. They have found it, are in it, and are absorbed by it. And they attract like-minded people who work with them, creating a competitive powerhouse focused on customer value.

They create and sustain a purpose, vision and culture in their business that nourishes and feeds an absolute energy throughout their entire business infecting, directing and motivating everyone who works with their business. And they know the core of this strength lies in worthy leadership and the connection they build with all who work with the business. Therefore, they are ruthless in ensuring that only worthy leaders are empowered in their business.

Their motive is not profit or capital value. These are merely some of the rewards delivered by focusing on and understanding that their business exists for a purpose, and that purpose is to meet a need. A customer need, a need within a community, a community they are part of, and a community to whom they deliver a greater customer value than anyone else can.

Great leaders are achievers. They constantly look inward and ask whether they are worthy and how they can improve themselves first. They assess and focus on their performance and only then turn towards their business to direct, align, motivate and inspire.

With their focus on leadership performance, they seek to challenge and support their team, and themselves, by constantly lifting this performance to new heights. They recognise the nine stepping stones impacting business performance, representing the key areas where their leadership must excel.

Nine Steps

There are nine key areas of focus that impact the competitiveness and, therefore, the success of any business. These areas require constant attention, refinement and strengthening. They are the areas in which leaders constantly strive to improve their performance. They are:

1. Finding The Right Business For You

Care must be taken in choosing the ‘right business’. No one can be successful at every business. There is a right and wrong choice for you. Whether you are searching for a new start-up or idea or whether you have been in business for years, this rule applies.

Seek to only lead businesses that are a natural fit with you and where you have first-hand knowledge of the business, its customers and their needs. A business where you can see how it may deliver a greater customer value than anyone else.

2. Developing Your Leadership Traits

Leadership provides the moral value and strength of purpose of a business. For a business to enjoy continual success it must have worthy leaders at its core. Worthy leaders possess the traits of wisdom, sincerity, humanity, courage and discipline.

As a leader, it is your role to set the direction, and align and motivate everyone in the business. The customer comes first, those working for the business second, and you somewhere much further down the line. Only through strengthening your character and traits can you hope to be capable of leading a business to its full potential.

3. Establishing Purpose and Vision Aligned With Customer Need

Vision and purpose are exciting and enticing. They draw all the people who make up a business together and give them a shared common purpose and energy to move forward. Purpose is the anchor and summit. Vision is the glue that binds and the energy that propels your business forward. Your vision is the quest you are calling everyone to join you in.

Only lead businesses with a clear purpose and always craft an enticing vision to create the necessary passion and energy to succeed.

4. Seeding, Moulding and Building The Right Culture For Your Business

The culture of a business is its personality and traits. A business’s culture must uphold its values and ethics and underpin the strength of its leadership. The ‘right culture’ supports the competitive strength of a business.

You must ruthlessly uphold the right culture in your business, as it is the key to delivering greater customer value.

5. Developing An Intimate Understanding Of Customers and Their Needs

The rock-solid culture of understanding and fulfilling customer needs today and tomorrow will not only retain and build a loyal customer base, but more importantly it will provide a future direction for the business. Customers are today’s lifeblood and the compass for your future direction. Continuously and with absolute focus, seek to improve the value delivered to your customers, and your business will thrive.

You should instil and uphold this ‘customer-centric’ focus by meeting customers’ needs and delivering value first and foremost. And only if you do this will the profit and rewards follow.

6. Developing and Investing In The Competencies To Deliver On Customer Needs

Knowing what your business can do well and what it cannot guides your competitive effort. It tells you what directions to move in, what competencies to build and which capabilities need strengthening. Therefore, you must truly know and acknowledge your competencies and capabilities to know your business and compete effectively.

In leading, focus on your customer value proposition and ensure you can deliver on it, and then some. Only through this approach will you be able to outcompete everyone else.

7. Building Trust With Your People

Your business is the sum of all its employees and nothing more. Its competitive success is founded in the combined strength of its employees. Inspire and guide your employees well, and your business will exceed your wildest dreams.

Recognise that the core of the competitive strength of your business is the people who work within it. Build a relationship of trust with them, so they know you have their interests at heart and that you will do your utmost to bring their skills and talents into play.

8. Crafting And Delivering The Right Rewards

Incentives are the fuel, the energy, that drives your business. Structure, align and manage your incentive programs well, and your employees will strive to attain their rewards and exceed your greatest expectations.

If you would want to have people working for you who believe they are fairly rewarded financially and really love their work, their colleagues, your customers and the opportunities to excel they are provided, rather than those who are just in it for the money, then focus on your incentive programs.

9. Eliminating Barriers

Paradigms are the barriers to competitive thought that can paralyse a business’s ability to succeed. Bureaucracy and self-interest are the poisons, the toxicants that can build up within your business and destroy its character and soul. They all must be eradicated without hesitation.

You must always be looking for barriers within your business that hold it back from getting better every day and achieving all it can. And when you find them eliminate them quickly.

The creation and growth of a successful business is an art that requires, as for any art, the attaining and practising of basic skills. It is a continual journey where everyday leaders must be focused on the key elements that underpin the success of their business. They must grow in their understanding of these elements and their ability to mould and strengthen them.


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All the best in the success of your business,

Richard Shrapnel