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Business Observer Friday, Feb. 14, 2020 6 days ago

How to be a better leader

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Beck Besecker with Marxent is so versed in how-to, he's writing a book on it.
by: Mark Gordon Managing Editor

Beck Besecker has some two decades of in-the-trenches how-to experience.

With his current company, St. Petersburg-based Marxent, Besecker’s helped build a business that’s now a national leader in 3D commerce and virtual and augmented reality, focused on the furniture industry. Before that, Besecker, 49, spent 13 years in interactive marketing for Fortune 500 retailers and brands, including Target and Tesco. In 1999, he founded Copient Technologies, and after he sold that business, to point-of-sale software and hardware firm NCR, he was executive vice president of new business at Catalina Marketing.  

Behind that experience Besecker is compiling a personal how to journey. He’s detailed the lessons in a potential book with the working title “Good Work Habits: Everything you never learned in school about how to be successful at work.” Topics in the draft — alternatively titled “How to be Successful at Work” — stem from what he’s seen and done, from asking investors for money how to let your boss know you have “your s*@! together.” Some of his greatest how-to tips include:

How to shelve your executive ego or be OK with “that’s a stupid idea, boss.”
• Besecker writes that although “being right feels amazing, … being wrong feels better. … I’ve been the boss, and I know how it feels when everyone agrees that I have a brilliant idea. But it can’t possibly be true that one person who has done almost no work on a topic is 100% right 100% of the time, can it?”

‘The ability to share bad news while maintaining calm and enabling a team to continue pushing forward demonstrates one of the essentials of leadership.’ Beck Besecker, Marxent

• Giving the ‘yes man’ the loudest voice, he says, is a sign of complacency. Besecker recalls one morning “I was told to bug off by four different project owners. Not a single team member told me I had a brilliant idea. … Was I off my game? Didn’t they want my help or respect my experience? Then it hit me that I should be thrilled.”

• He says that’s because trust leads to better work. “I want our subject matter experts to feel like it’s worth it for them to spend the time, effort and research crafting solid positions and to feel confident that I trust them and their direction,” he writes. “Instead of pushing to be right, I want to push everyone at Marxent to be confident and to feel trusted when they are charged with owning a project. Trust leads to ownership, and ultimately, it leads to a better work product.”

How to organize your workday, entrepreneur-style

•  Besecker uses Sunday nights to review project lists he’s organized by goals, dates and supporting tasks. He has goals defined for six months and tasks defined for the next 30-60 days.

• On Sunday nights, Besecker also builds a cross-project task list for the week. “I write down in a notebook,” he writes, “so I can get the satisfaction of physically checking off a completed task.”

• He also assesses the actual work hours he has in a day. “That is eight hours less meeting time,” he writes. “As a consequence, I’m conscious of filling up my day with meetings. I also request 30-minute meetings versus hour meetings to maximize the day.”

How a leader can be OK with — and deliver — bad news

• Besecker says if the news the boss both receives and disseminates is uniformly positive, then it’s escaped from reality. “There is value in sharing a little bit of bad news at times,” he writes. “It makes the good news sound better, reveals potential issues before they become problems and keeps everyone honest.”

• Prompt sharing of bad news, he writes, “can keep small issues from becoming unconquerable, guide the setting of expectations and help you more effectively lead through the building of trust among team members. … The ability to share bad news while maintaining calm and enabling a team to continue pushing forward demonstrates one of the essentials of leadership.”

• When sharing bad news with a team or company, Besecker says to describe the situation — don’t cast blame in a public setting. “If individual performance is related to the bad news, don’t put it in an email,” he writes. “Have follow-up conversations to ensure there is awareness by all of the people involved. If not, people may never even know that you believe them to be the source of a failure.”

Mark Wemple. Marxent co-Founder and CEO Beck Besecker says sharing bad news at a company isn't always a bad thing.

• Another key, he says, is to keep whatever the bad news is in context. “Unless the bad news,” Besecker writes, “is brand new and of such an urgency that it needs to be shared immediately, bad news should be confined to regular communications as part of a mix with good and neutral news.”

 

Being better in business sometimes requires a road map to figure out some thorny issues. Click the links below to read more from the Business Observer’s annual how-to guide:

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