Josh Campbell’s business is already a leader in residential heating and air in the Dallas, Texas, area. When customers call for assistance from Rescue Heating and Air, they know exactly what to expect—thanks to Josh’s collaborative leadership model that’s helped expand his family’s third-generation business into a small empire, now poised to do $14 million in business in 2022.
This year, Josh is adding another jewel to the Rescue Heating and Air crown: a plumbing company, run by a local plumber with a large social media following. But before he made any moves, he had to get his team on board. This, according to Josh, is leadership in action.
“Dictatorship-style businesses are either a thing of the past or they’re dying,” he said. “You gotta be able to get people to buy in, and people buy in with their own ideas—not with yours.”
In this case, Josh started by presenting the idea to his leadership team, asking: “Do you think it would be smart? What are the advantages?” When the team had come up with a solution, he felt confident in moving ahead.
This is just one of many leadership strategies that Josh suggests other small business owners can replicate: “If you go around a leadership team, and you get them to identify all the advantages [of an idea] and then they say, ‘Yeah, we should do this’—it was their idea then. You got their buy-in, and they understand why we’re doing it, and you did that with a collaborative approach.”
This approach has taken Rescue Heating and Air far. Now responsible for more than 40 employees, Josh has had to grow as a leader alongside the company. For Josh, this means knowing how to support his team—and when to step back.
“When I think of leadership, I think of a head coach, right?” he said. “A mentor or a guide. I think those are the best leaders,” he said. “I once heard an analogy of the garden stakes that you plant on a tree to help the tree grow up properly. That’s what leadership is in my mind.”
How do you know when an employee is ready to grow? Josh starts by being extremely intentional in hiring, from the management to the front desk receptionist. Since every employee is a crucial part of customer experience, he looks for people who he believes are interested in learning. This often means hiring for attitude instead of talent.
“Somebody’s technical skills or how many years of experience they might have—none of that matters to me,” Josh said. “What matters to me: Are these good people? Are they coachable? Do they have a good work ethic? Are they motivated? And I can figure the rest of it out.”
Another source of knowledge for Josh has been leadership books, which he said help him continue to learn about himself and train others: “I don’t think there’s any person that’s more important to educate than the person at the top. You can’t give it to somebody else if you don’t have it.”
While Josh continually expects growth, he also knows when to motivate his team with positive feedback, even handing out gold stars to recognize their hard work. “I think gold stars are underrated,” he said. “They’re little stickers and when somebody does something excellent, I think it’s really good in such a core basic way to just recognize people.”
Feedback isn’t just for the team, however. Josh also relies on reviews to improve his business overall—whether they’re positive, negative, or simply lukewarm. Most business owners lament the 1-star review and laud the 5-star review. But those in between? That’s where the magic is, he said: “I actually try to dig in on those 4-star reviews, and I write, ‘Hey, what could we have done to earn that fifth star?’ That’s a bold thing to ask. Cause now you’re taking a 4-star review, which is a good review, and you’re about to find out the bad, and you just ask them to air out your laundry.”
“I encourage business owners to ask people how they could get the fifth star. If they’re getting a 4-star review, no matter how ugly it is, they’re going to help you build a better business.”
What else can you expect from the episode? Hear more about:
- How to build honesty and trust in your leadership team
- Why it’s important to talk about the ugly things when building a better business
- Josh’s leadership book recommendations
These lessons come from an episode of Behind the Review, Yelp & Entrepreneur Media’s weekly podcast. Listen below to hear more from Josh and Emily, or visit the episode page to read more, subscribe to the show, and explore other episodes.
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