Dave Ramsey Entrepreneurship
America's trusted voice on money and business, Dave Ramsey is a personal money management expert and extremely popular national radio personality. His three New York Times best-selling books - Financial Peace, More Than Enough and The Total Money Makeover - have sold more than 6 million copies combined. His latest book is EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches.

Plug In or Promote from Within?

Plug In or Promote from Within?


I own a small business with about 20 team members, and we’re doing pretty well. Last year, we had revenues of about $1.2 million and profits of $250,000. How do I find leadership within my company that cares about the vision and value of my company enough to help me grow it to the next level? I have two people in mind here who have impressed me a lot in the last two years, and I’d like for one of them to take a step up in the company. I’d like for this person to also challenge me and help me grow as a leader.



I want leaders on my team who aren’t afraid to bring things to my attention. If there are things they feel I need to work on, or look at differently, I want them to let me know. I’m not perfect, that’s for sure. And I’ve made plenty of mistakes during my 30-plus years in business. But when it comes right down to it, it’s not their job to challenge me and help me grow. As a leader, that’s on me. It’s my responsibility to make sure I’m constantly challenging myself and growing as a leader and businessman.

Now, developing your team members and getting them to actually care and align with your mission? That is part of your job. You don’t want leaders within your organization who aren’t aligned with what you’re trying to accomplish. When that happens, you’ve got a leader working a J-O-B. And at that point, they’re no longer a leader. They’re just a boss. Leaders lead. They show the way, they encourage and they lead by example. A boss just tells people what to do.

Over the years, I’ve had more luck promoting from within than I have bringing in someone new and plugging them in. Maybe there’s someone there who’s smart, already showing potential and demonstrating they care about the place and your mission. That’s someone you can tap on the shoulder and start to move in a leadership direction. That kind of person is already fired up and wired up, so take the bridle off them and give them a chance to run.

Here’s an easy first step: Find a really good small-business and leadership book, buy three copies and start a series of study sessions with you and the two team members you mentioned earlier. Let them know you feel they have real leadership potential, then read through the chapters together and discuss one or two over a lunch each week. Open up the discussions, and just let them talk. After a few weeks of this, it’ll start to become clear really fast if either one is suited for a bigger role in the company. It’ll become the ultimate interview process.

Great question, Troy. Best of luck to you and your company as you take this next big step!

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