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Setting the stage
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Setting the stage
The stage was set – two maroon club chairs in front of the official podium, the American flag and the flag of the Small Business Administration placed against the deep blue curtain. Hundreds of chairs set up across the vast Eisenhower Conference Room at SBA headquarters for a live audience; the phone and web links secured for the thousands more who would be participating via conference call and livestream.
This scene would also set the stage for my role as leader of the SBA.
Today I held what may be the most important meeting of my new position as SBA Administrator – my first town hall meeting. Every one of SBA’s employees nationwide was invited to ask questions, share ideas, and get to know me and my vision for the agency President Trump tasked me to lead. My ability to communicate my ideas and expectations would determine how successful we would be.
I believe communication is critical to any leadership role – whether we are directing a play, a Cabinet-level federal agency or a small business, we all have teams we must motivate. My management style has three simple steps:
- Communicate what’s expected and how results will be measured.
- Trust employees to do the jobs they were hired to do.
- Hold them accountable.
When I first met with President-Elect Trump back in November about taking the top job at SBA, he communicated one clear, specific request to me: “Do a good job.” He said it with such sincerity, I knew he meant it and was expecting me to deliver. I responded that I would, adding, “If at any time my job isn’t good enough, I trust you will tell me.”
I am asking every one of SBA’s employees to join me in that commitment: do a good job and expect to be held accountable. And as I said in my final words of the town hall meeting, I hope we can also have some fun while we’re at it!
It’s a lesson I learned as I was building my own business, and I believe it’s one all small business owners can take to heart. How we manage our team has a great impact on how the team, in turn, manages our business. Let employees know you get it. Greet people in the elevator with eye contact and a hello. Get out of the corner office and be seen. Show your team you value the work they do. Get their advice and suggestions – those on the front lines of your business are your most valuable resource. If we don’t inspire, motivate and challenge our teams, we can’t be effective leaders.
I look forward to getting to know everyone on our team at SBA – what they are doing, how I can be accessible and helpful to them, and how they can best feel connected to the goals of the agency. I want them to know I have their backs. We all have to be pulling the wagon in the same direction – otherwise, we will not have the same success I know we can have.
Today’s town hall meeting drew 1,645 SBA employees via livestream, 623 on the phone and a standing-room-only crowd of 260 in the conference room (and as someone who built a business around live events and ticket sales, I have always said that next to “I love you,” my three favorite words are “standing room only!”). I am told it was the most-attended town hall meeting in the history of SBA. I sincerely hope my message was heard by each of them. Because I won’t just be communicating to them, I will be listening to them as well.
Thanks to everyone who participated today.
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