It’s a long-standing question that every engaged business professional will ask eventually, if they’re interested in profits or expansion. What is making the biggest impact on the bottom line and how much weight should be put on developing systems vs leadership? It’s a great question, and one worth asking, because the impact does indeed have an impact on the bottom line, and it also impacts longevity & culture, not to mention reputation.

Of course you need systems of one kind or another. No matter what the industry, there has to be a way of doing things that is standardized, clear and consistent. In smaller business, where there may be only one person or a few people fulfilling a role, this is less critical than it is in big or multi-location businesses that have many people stepping in to do the same job. How a business is structured matters a lot when it comes to training & operations.

So, pay the big bucks, put the systems in, and watch them run your business, right? Well, it might not be that easy. Even world-class systems will fall flat if they are not run by the right leadership. Yes, automation will take care of a lot but if people are still involved in building, maintaining or running those systems, you need feedback loops & guiding principles in the form of human leadership.

Just how much difference can one person make? With so many factors affecting operations, time, talent & resources have limits of their own, what can one single person really do? The answer is: the right leader can make a ‘shockingly dramatic’ transformation. The right leader in the right situation, given the proper tools can turn a failing business around, given a sufficient amount of time to do it. Yes, this includes revenue, expenses & productivity.

Let’s go even deeper here. It’s not just the leader, it’s the mindset, attitude, habits and behaviours of the leader on the job that “makes or breaks” success. Great coaches, mentors, teachers & leaders in all walks of life, can repeat their success over and over in different situations, and in different environments. How do they do this? Great leaders know their mindset makes the difference and they invest in the one tool they get for free – their MINDS.

Just because a great leader may have success in one area of life, for example running the operations of a large company, it does not necessarily mean that same person has success in every area of life. One person may be a great listener & leader of people but struggle with personal issues, weight management, personal relationships or ‘bad habits’ outside of work. Of course, the most desirable state for any of us, is a balance of success in many areas as it leads to more satisfaction and less stress in life. When it comes to business, though, what matters is having the right people in the right place, doing the things they excel in, and fulfilling roles where they can make the most impact for the organization. You can’t manage people, but you can, and should, manage the talent.

When you combine great systems with great leadership, you have the magic formula for success, but you need both, and if you had to pick one, remember that unless your systems can run themselves, you need top notch people in place to run them, and to guide the rest of the people in your organization…with compassion & expertise.