Leadership Tactic #1: Responsiveness

Viticulture for Amazon horizontalI’ve learned a lot in the last year about running a business. Forming Stonemaier Games to publish and distribute Viticulture has taught me about customer service, accounting, project management, marketing, sales, production, shipping, logistics…the list goes on.

A lot of it–perhaps 75% or so–is simply interacting with people. Some of those people are clients (Kickstarter backers), bloggers, and board members, but a large percentage of my time is actually spent interacting with only a handful of people. These are my key contacts: my production supervisor, my artist, my graphic designer, my accountant, and my overseas shipping coordinator.

All of these people have one thing in common: They are all highly responsive.

From the first time I reached out to these people when I sought their expertise to when I correspond with them on a daily basis, they always respond quickly. Almost always within 24 hours, sometimes much faster. I don’t have to track these people down to get information from them.

I mention that last point because despite the sheer number of mediums for communication these days, it is really hard to get some people to respond to a request or an inquiry, even if you are looking to pay them. The list of highly responsive contacts I mentioned above has 5 people on it. But I’ve literally contacted hundreds over other people in the past year who take weeks to reply, or never reply at all.

Thus it’s those who respond–and continue to respond on a consistent basis–are the ones who will get my business. Those are the people I trust, and those are the people I want to pay to do things I can’t do.

Now, it also happens that those 5 people are highly competent and skilled at what they do. However, there are tons of competent people out there, but if you’re not responsive, it doesn’t matter. You could be the best blacksmith in the world, but if you don’t reply to my e-mail, I can’t pay you to make my cat-shaped hood ornament.

This is Leadership Tactic #1, people. It’s been a long time in the making. All the other leadership tactics matter, but if you combine all of those and leave out responsiveness, none of them matter. Reply to your e-mails. Return your phone calls. Even if you can’t reply in full, let the person know that you got their message and you’re working on it. That can make all the difference in the world.

What’s the last time you tried to give someone your business, but they didn’t reply, so you moved on to someone responsive?