Managing Your Business
3 simple strategies to improve as a leader
Leadership guru Ryan Estis wants you to "take action now."
Fixating on your customer isn't strange—it's essential. At least that's what sales expert and Chase Business Insights Seminar speaker Ryan Estis recommends. In this Chase for Business series Culture Imperative, Estis shows readers how to drive growth with customer obsession.
It's a familiar scenario: you read an inspiring new book; attend a week-long conference; or have an energizing, exciting phone call. You're bursting with thrilling and new ideas. But hold on—your phone is vibrating again. One hundred new emails. Twelve voicemails.
Now that you've turned toward the next fire that needs your attention, it's likely that you'll abandon those big, new ideas and the commitment required to change your organization. But no one is blaming you—it's a common occurrence. Habits are hard to break, and major change is really hard work.
To break that cycle in my own life, I developed what I call the TAN plan. It means "Take. Action. Now." The goal is simple. You can't apply an infinite number of ideas to your business. But you can apply three. Everyone's TAN plan is different, but here are a few sample action items that can help get your small business on the right trajectory for 2025—and beyond.
Part 1: Put your people first
Without quality relationships, we can't expect top-notch interactions and experiences, either. This is as true in our businesses as it is in our personal lives.
You win over customers by giving them a better experience than they expect every time. You can do the same thing for your employees.
First, invest in training and development programs. Then, work with your employees to provide a better work-life balance. If you give them what they need to grow and succeed, you'll turn your business into a place where people want to work—not just where they happen to work.
You'll have to go the extra mile for your people. A funny thing happens when you genuinely and sincerely want to help somebody without the expectation of anything in return: people remember. They return the favor.
So, pay it forward. You might be surprised at what happens.
Part 2: Embrace transparency
As leaders, we often have to make unpopular decisions or have difficult decisions with our employees. Those who do it poorly are guaranteed to wreck their organizational morale.
None of us like having these conversations. But they're necessary if you want to do what you feel is best for your business.
So, be transparent when you have these conversations. Communicate clearly and intentionally. Your employees may not always like what you have to say, but they will ultimately respect your honesty. And don't just take my word for it—research shows transparency is the top factor in employee happiness.
But it's not just your employees who are seeking transparency. Your customers are, too. Whether your customer is a loyal patron or a prospect you're meeting for the first time, be clear about the value you can provide for them, and be ready to answer any questions throughout the process. Setting honest expectations about what the customer can expect goes a long way towards securing brand loyalty.
Part 3: Start the day with intention
We all have different types of businesses. But as leaders, we make the same exact choice every single morning: we decide how we show up.
Culture is a reflection of how we lead. The best leaders are acutely aware of the impact their presence has on others. They anticipate change and adversity. Even when they get overwhelmed, they don't take their frustrations out on others.
I believe that the only way to win the day is to win your morning. What do you do when you wake up? Do you reach for the phone? If you do, I challenge you to stop.
Instead, sit silently in your room for five minutes. Shut yourself off from the hassles and pressures of the upcoming day. Get yourself calm and centered.
When this is finished, pull out a journal. But don't write down a to-do list just yet. Instead, write three things you feel gratitude and appreciation for. It may sound a bit strange, but I can speak from personal experience that this exercise will lead you to personal breakthroughs that will help you be better able to serve others.
Finally, write down three things you want to accomplish for the day. Not 10, not 20—just three. What are three ways you can have an impact? Figure those out, and you will show up like the leader you are meant to be.
Your next breakthrough is right on the edge of your comfort zone. Create your own TAN plan, and you'll find you have everything you need to get to that next level.
Ryan Estis is a keynote speaker and former chief strategy officer known for his innovative ideas on leading change, improving sales effectiveness and preparing for the future of work.