Leadership Strategies: Becoming A Great Leader And Effective Communicator With Christine Perakis

Anybody can become a great leader no matter what position you are in. Today, Jen du Plessis talks to Christine Perakis about the key leadership strategies that we need to possess. Christine is a business growth architect who guides small business owners to get from zero to eight figures in record time. Drawing from her experience as an attorney, strategic advisors, and serial entrepreneur, she offers advice on how to make sure that you remain a quality leader and an effective communicator. She also outlines her barometers of resilience and highlights some tidbits from her book, The Entrepreneur’s Essential Roadmap: Take Your Business from 0 to 7 Figures in Record Time.

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I have with me Christine Perakis. She is the owner of Christine Perakis Global. She is a business growth architect who guides small business owners to get from 0 to 8 figures in record time. Drawing from her experience as an attorney, as a strategic advisor, serial entrepreneur and C-Suite executive in ten businesses, she is a professional 100-Ton-Licensed Boat Captain. She has been a world champion professional yacht racer. She is also helping hundreds of clients on five continents and she survived two Category 5 hurricanes in a two-week span, trapped alone in a wind coffin for almost 24 hours and surviving in the aftermath for months without electricity and running water. Her book, The Resilient Leader introduces leadership strategies called the Seven Barometers of Resilience that anyone can use to weather any Category 5 situations in their lives and in their businesses. Welcome to the show, Christine.

Thank you, Jen.

One of the things that you’re interested in and what I want to talk about is leadership. One of the things that are happening in the mortgage and real estate space is that finally, companies and individuals are realizing that those particular sales professionals are sales professionals. They were never set out to be team leaders or anything like that. The industry is finally realizing that they need more support than being the Jack of all trades and master of nothing and having to deal with all aspects of the sales cycle of getting a loan or getting a real estate mortgage. You’ll find that in other businesses you have salespeople and then you have fulfillment people. You don’t have the salesperson trying to do all the jobs. Our industry is finally catching up with the times.

It poses a lot of challenges because there are not many people in the industry who have good management skills heart or have ever been trained in management and it’s attrition. If you’re a great producer, you can become a leader, you can become a manager and then you can become all these wonderful things. I find that in my coaching and my speaking that a lot of high-level people don’t have the management skills. If we can teach that to people at the low-end, who are bringing on their first-person all the way up to someone who owns their own institution, then we’re going to have a better place. It’s going to be more profitable. Everyone’s going to be happier. There’ll be less turnover and a lot of different things. What are some key leadership strategies, thinking about the person who’s bringing on that first-person? Can we talk about some of the leadership strategies that we need to possess?

I’m the perfect person to talk about this because leadership was thrust upon me in a number of junctures. My last company, we grew from three of us, starting this business out in a group to a team of 160 people within twelve months, but more closely six months or so and a $10-million year business in years. All of a sudden, I had to have management skills that I didn’t have any background for. The way you described that journey when you get promoted or you get put into a role and suddenly, there’s a team under you or you find yourself in a category five situation, which is how I characterize the hurricanes, but also things that we don’t control. Having a team thrusts upon you feels like it could be a category five situation too. There are some specific leadership skills that we can learn. The strategies that I talk about in my book. I look at it is going to expedition rules. What are the outdoor wilderness leadership strategies that I learned when I was surviving alone in the aftermath of these hurricanes?

Those are the designated leaders, the people with a title. The people who are peer leaders that are among their peer leaders within the group. People who are self-leaders and the people who are active followers. Those are four different kinds of leadership strategies that we can all employ no matter what position we’re in. It’s also inspiring to others. There I was with no designated role but needing certain things that I couldn’t provide myself. Getting help was stepping up. First, by being a good active follower, when there were things that I can do to pitch in and being a good self-leader, taking responsibility for myself when I could. Being a good peer leader and being able to see what’s needed among my peers, step in and volunteer, step up and make put my skills to use. As we’re getting started, being able to be aware that there are people that are depending on us or maybe ourselves or our own families, then there are things that we can do to step forward.

I like all those categories. Let’s make sure that we all have that. We have a designated leader. We have a self-leader. We have a peer leader and then we have an active follower.

Leadership Strategies: A lot of high-level people don’t really have the management skills.

A peer leader is a leader amongst peers. That would be in a situation where you’re not acting for yourself and you’re not the designated leader, but you’re a leader among your peers because you’re stepping up. In that case, where somebody has just got one person they’re reporting to or they’ve been a part of a team, those latter three roles of leadership are available to us all.

I want to talk about the active follower because to me, that’s on the lower part of that, but how can an active follower help a leader? I’m thinking of this specifically as you hire your first person who’s going to help you on your team or your company. How can that active follower help push forward from that perspective? I’m asking from the bottom up rather than top-down.

I’m a yacht racer. I’m part of the team and there are ten of us on the boat. Every job is important. The fact is, when we win or lose, the credit or the blame is going to go to two people. It’s the driver, who is usually the owner in our fleet and the tactician who’s the one that gets blamed for all the bad moves. Everybody has a role to play. What we’re doing at all times, every single one of us is looking out for, “What’s going on over here in my peripheral vision or ahead of me or behind me where I can step forward and pitch in if I’ve got a free hand or a moment in between jobs?” I have a very busy job on the boat. I am in the center of the boat, in the pit but I impact what’s going on in front of me.

I impact what’s going on behind me. There are going to be times when I might need help and I’m hoping someone else is going to step up and help me. I will have a free hand and be able to do something different or show up. From the back of the boat, you’ve got somebody who’s a designated leader, like the helmsperson in the situation. If they see something that needs to be handled, they might be the right person to go forward. I’ve seen that with good professional yacht racers. They’re leaping all over the boat because they see what needs to be done. They know they have a place and they can help because everybody else has got their hands full.

In the business world, how does that push things forward for people? I can see how it might help on a boat because everything’s instant and reactionary. You don’t know what waves are going to do and what the winds are going to do. In the business environment, how does that help move a bit the business along and grow profits over time?

I have experience way back when I was in a school, in one of my programs where I was in a study group. Everybody had their assignments and we were all contributing to the group. In any kind of group, you’re going to see the stars. People who have always done it early and they got it all done the best. There are people who are lagging. They don’t contribute. The ideal functioning team is when everybody looks at each other. I had this experience and they say, “I feel like I didn’t do anything.” Everyone else had the same experience and they felt that all the others had contributed so much. That’s a winning success formula, whereas everybody is an active follower. They’ve done their best and they feel like it doesn’t compare to what everyone else is doing. That team is going to be exceeding all goals, uplifted and reaching their potential at every turn.

I love that example. Hopefully, that resonates with everyone. That’s pretty powerful that you go home and you feel like, “All I do is work.” A lot of times people say, “I’m going to put my nose to the grind. I’m going to do my own job and not worry about everybody else.” The success of the entire team or the corporation forward, that’s a deficit to that. Every day someone will have the grunt of the workload to be done or the concerns or whatever it may be. That helps me understand more fully the active follower and what their role is in helping people.

Remaining as a leader means being self and situationally aware. Click To Tweet

I’ll tell you one more little bit. I worked with senior leaders in transition. I’d mentioned that to you in our exchanges. What I say to them is you come in here prepared to help. If you give everything you’ve got in terms of your resources and everybody has the same attitude, you’re going to get back tenfold. That’s an exponential result.

I do believe to a certain extent, that people should stay in their own lane. You have your role and you know your role. You should stay in your own lane and not try to do someone else’s job. Helping them is another story, but try to stay in your own lane because I know for me, as a team leader, I have my own businesses. I don’t want to come in and expect to have to do things that aren’t beneath me. I’m not talking about beneath me stuff because I can make copies. I’m talking about things that if I focus on your job, your duties and your tasks, then I’m therefore not focusing on my job, my duties. My tasks, which are to bring business in to be the rainmaker, whatever the position may be. Walk us through that fine line. How do we make sure that we remain the leader in the team, but also demonstrate that we’re willing to roll up our sleeves without crossing that line so often that it becomes a habit?

There are a couple of barometers of resilience that comes into my mind when we’re talking about that scenario. The first one is the expedition rules. When we’re all going out, whether to climb Mount Everest or to go circle the world in a boat or circle some buoys offshore a little bit a couple of miles out. We’re all trying to reach an objective. If we have an agreement as a group and understand that clearly and we are prepared to make sure that we’re not here to pick up your slack, we’re here to do more than our share. If everyone has the same attitude, then we can keep our eye out. That’s the second piece of the barometers of resilience that come to my mind, which is we have an expression in yacht racing or in boating altogether, which is one hand on the boat. That means always keeping yourself, both personally self-aware and situationally aware. It’s not about stepping in and picking up the slack for somebody but saying, “There’s a piece here in our very well-knit group, our tightly run unit that is not able to step forward for one reason or another. What can we do as a group to support them?” From an expedition standpoint that we’re all here to survive or reach the summit of whatever the goals are and they were trying to achieve, then the group together can solve these issues and lift everybody up.

What are some of the biggest mistakes that leaders make?

There are a couple of things that are critical. I love using my boat analogies because they’re perfect for these situations. Self-awareness to me, is the foundational piece of leadership. It’s one that’s easy to handle and yet, few of us take the time to make the effort and put in the learning that it takes to become aware. We’re autonomic, reflexive people. We tell ourselves stories about things that are happening rather than understanding the facts of what is happening. If we’re not aware of those things, we don’t know what’s coming across. We lose track of them situationally as well. The key metric for measuring that skill or leadership skills, in general, is communication.

To me, not having good communication skills is the biggest breakdown of all leadership. I’m as guilty as anybody of that. I would have known then what I know now. Having a communication plan and being able to say to everybody and knowing your communication styles. Communication can be systematized for a business-like human resource, finance and all these other systems that are very commonly understood. It is to understand if you’re communicating the same way to everyone in your company, you’re going to miss out on 75% of those people.

I have a lot of management training, but it’s counterintuitive to what everyone believes as a manager. I need to treat everyone fairly and the same. You can treat everyone fairly, but you can do it by not treating them the same. It sounds weird, but it is because everyone has different skill levels, willingness and ability. There are all kinds of attributes that are in there that you can treat everyone fairly, but you can’t treat everyone the same. That’s interesting because as you were talking about communication, I was going to counterbalance with one person’s thinking of being a good communicator is not another receiver’s thinking. Some people bark out the tasks to be done. Some give half a story because their head goes twice as fast and they’re already at the end. They go, “You got it.” The person goes, “Okay,” because they’re afraid to say anything. You need to be good at communication. What’s a good way that someone could learn how to be a better and more effective communicator other than thinking that they’re doing a great job at it right now and do an analysis of it?

Leadership Strategies: Communication can be systematized for a business.

If they’ve never spent any time thinking about it, they’re not doing a great job at it. People are hearing them, but not listening. They’re not getting it or they’re not responding to them. That’s a guarantee. You’ve said it yourself and I have a little tool that I’ll send it to you because I love to give it to your audience. It is simple. I draw from the DISC method. I have a simple, very quick task people, introvert, extrovert, a four-part, a little chart that you can get adept at. You can literally look at somebody or hear them answering the telephone and know exactly whether they’re task-oriented, introverted or people-oriented extrovert or people-oriented introvert. Every one of those people, in order to make a decision or to get on board or to get engaged with whatever you’re asking of them, they are going to require different things. A D person, a task-oriented extrovert, wants to get to the bottom line. An introverted task-oriented person wants to see all the facts and figures and the spreadsheets and all the back story to how you got there. That’s a critical piece, but you can get it quickly by being aware that this is a need to do that.

It’s funny you mentioned that because I want to share a little bit of a story. I had a processor who works for me. I’m not a barker at all anymore, but maybe someplace in the backend, but at that point in time, I was a high D. I still am a very high I. I’m a 99 I out of 100. I was a high D, but now I’m much lower. I’m below 50% now. I would come in and say, “Good morning, Robyn. I need this and that done.” She’d go, “Excuse me, I won’t do anything for you with an attitude like that.” I’m thinking, “I don’t even have an attitude.” It’s the bottom line. I had to learn to do yoga outside of her office. Just before I go, I’m like, “Let me think for a minute. Take a breath.” I walk-in and I’ll say, “Robyn, how was your night?” “That’s great. That’s wonderful.”

Meanwhile, my foot’s padding like a busy rabbit on the ground, I’m like, “We got a lot of our agenda. Do you have a few minutes that we can talk?” She’s like, “Yes.” It makes a big difference. I love telling that story to management. It comes on to situational leadership and I love working with those. We talked about a team, but how could this apply to an entrepreneur? Let’s say, I’m reading the blog and I’m an entrepreneur. I’m thinking, “I want to grow, but I don’t know how to grow because I was a great widget maker. I’m not good at HR. I’m not good at management. I’ll take it all on myself.” What are some tactics or strategies that they can look at to allow themselves to start growing? The second part of that is where they can go get some training on how to become a more effective leader and communicator?

There’s a whole bunch to unpack there, most especially at first. An entrepreneur needs to get a team around them, whatever that looks like, however, that gets formed. That’s why I’m sure you and I are effective in our businesses because we can offer that outside 30,000-foot perspective. The reason that I got into doing this in the first place is that I was a do it all type of entrepreneur over and over again. I found myself running a multimillion-dollar business and having nobody that I felt I could count on in my corner. You can’t talk to your team. You can’t talk to your partners out bringing in all the business. Nobody understands the path I’m on or the road and my burdens. Having that support, a critical lesson, don’t go it alone and then put into place the people who share your common values. Know yourself well enough to know who is going to get on this train with me and take it all the way to the end? I’ve been in partnerships with people who’ve said, “I want to use this business as my personal checkbook.” I’m thinking of legacy. I want to build something. I want to have something lasting and we’re at complete odds.

Who are you taking money in from when you’re going out and getting investment? Are you willing to sign away your company or huge chunks of equity without understanding what are they about? Do they understand my values? Are we on the same page for the long-term vision of this business and our core ideology? Those are the things that are critical at the outset. A lot of entrepreneurs get excited about the idea of getting into the business. Maybe they’ve come across one or two or a handful of people that are also equally excited. I have documented and put together many of those partnerships only to see in a very short time. In a longer time, those things fall apart because we go in as if it’s not a business marriage. Understanding that we should date before we marry, we should have some ways that we honor the relationships and take care of each other, certain performance levels that we expect to be each other. Have all those uncomfortable conversations upfront so that when things get difficult, we’ve got a method for handling them.

That’s a good point that you make about knowing what it looks like. I’ve seen many hire people because they get overwhelmed and stressed and they hit that breaking point and say, “I need somebody.” They bring anybody and it doesn’t work out. You end up being in a worse situation. It is important to sit down and figure out, what does this cultural vision as much as the financial vision looks like to move forward with everyone? You have a gift for my readers and that is an eBook. Tell us about it.

This is the 45-minute challenge for those small business growth entrepreneurs out there in the audience that want to understand how to stop doing the things that aren’t producing results. There is a part of us that gets repeated over and over again. You see this all the time in other people’s websites and their business cards and their billboards, which is the highest expenditure ever. When you drive down the freeway and you see a billboard that has a phone number, “Call me, get it something, we’ve been in business for years,” who cares? I want to know how you’re going to solve my problem and every one of us, no matter what our role is, whether we’re a business owner, an entrepreneur leader, a team member, we have to convince people that we know how to solve their problems. Even if it’s people you’re reporting to, people you’re trying to sell to. We’re here to show you how to identify the problems that we solve. That is the number one problem in your head that you want to solve. There’s a bunch of tactics and strategies in that book to help people start thinking that way.

People should have some ways to honor relationships and take care of each other. Click To Tweet

If someone has anything resonates with you and they’d like to get ahold of you, what is the best method for them to reach out to you?

ChristinePerakisGlobal.com is my website. There are links in there to my book and my online business advisory. There is a lot of content there.

For clarity purposes, your ideal client is a senior leader who is committed to reaching the best potential that they possibly can and recognize that it may not be. I want to make sure that everybody knows about that. That’s your ideal client, but that doesn’t mean you can’t call her and you can’t get in touch with her and ask her questions about what you’re dealing with. As we close up, what book are you reading that has an impact on your life?

There are two most important books to me that I can read over and over again. One of them is Verne Harish’s Scaling Up. Wherever you are in your business, whatever your role is, you can learn something about how to make the most of this job you have or the business that you run. It’s fantastic and it’s scalable. Whether you’re a startup or a Fortune 100, that’s the beauty of that work. The second book is called Take Your Time by Eknath Easwaran, who is the first person to have brought meditation from India. It’s a small book. It’s a short read, but he wrote it in the mid ‘90s. I can only imagine what he’d think of our world. It’s the idea of slowing down, taking our time, getting rid of this multitasking as a virtue thing. It is a beautiful little guidebook for that.

The Entrepreneur’s Essential Roadmap: Take Your Business from 0 to 7 Figures in Record Time

That’s right up my alley. I always say slow down to speed up instead of speeding up to slow down. I love the name of that. Christine, I want to say thank you so much. I love the category five. I love the barometers. I can’t wait for your book to come out. As a reminder for everybody, your book is The Resilient Leader. It introduces leadership strategies and the seven barometers of resilience so that you can weather any category five situations in your life and your business to come through and survive and thrive. Thank you so much for joining us. It’s been an absolute pleasure speaking with you and best of wishes for you. I know you have a lot of things going on. Be sure to let us know when the book is launched that we can help you get it to number one.

Thank you so much, Jen. Thanks to everybody for reading. I hope this was of some value to you no matter what your category fives situations were.

Thank you so much for reading our blog. As a reminder, if you can write a review for us, give us a five-star rating and write us a review so we can continue to grow. Anytime you have any questions about any topics that you’d like to have discussed, please don’t forget to reach out to me at JenDuPlessis.com. There’s a contact form in there and you can say, “Jen, can you talk about this?” I would be happy to find someone or myself to have that conversation with you. We’ll catch you next time.

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About Christine Perakis

Christine Perakis, is a Business Growth Expert, Speaker, Bestselling Author, exceeding expectations for over two decades taking companies into hyper-growth and keeping them there by delivering crucial aspects of business services to navigate entrepreneurs to grow 8-Figure businesses.

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