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leadership lab

Dax Dasilva, founder and CEO of Lightspeed, poses for a photograph at the company offices in Montreal, Que., on Friday, Nov. 9, 2018.Dario Ayala

Dax Dasilva is founder of Lightspeed, a cloud commerce platform used in over 100 countries.

Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric, once said, “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”

In my journey to becoming a leader, beginning when I founded Lightspeed in 2005, much success and satisfaction have come from helping others grow. A common misconception among leaders is that you should only be helping your employees and customers grow when really to make a business successful, you should be promoting the expansion of an entire industry.

Often entrepreneurs need to remind themselves: What inspired the foundation of my business? If the answer is you were trying to fulfill a need in a specific market that has not been fully satisfied across the board, it should be an ongoing effort. At Lightspeed, we’re committed to helping all independent retailers and restaurants with innovative, cloud-based POS solutions. We’re always working to achieve this through both the products and services we provide as well as widespread thought leadership within the industry.

In my experience, you can become a leader in your industry and go above and beyond serving customers by using these guidelines:

Innovate beyond products

To drive both your business and its industry forward, you should be developing innovative ideas to serve everyone in the industry. Look beyond what you’re selling to greater offerings that could, for example, encourage constant learning.

We recently unveiled the Retail Success Index, an industry-validated questionnaire to help all independent retailers (not just our customers) determine a score for their business that would reveal new insights and windows for advancement. Here's an example where we recognized there was an opportunity to use our expertise in the industry to educate others by identifying their strengths and granting them knowledge on areas their company can improve – we just needed a tool to do that, so we made one.

Drive creativity and passion

There is immeasurable value in creative expression beginning with how it lends to business development, and this needs to be encouraged industry-wide. It’s essential to always put forth new ideas and embrace the free flow of information beyond your own business. For example, stimulate productive discourse through publishing thought-leadership pieces on a blog, on social media, in trade media, and so on.

I also firmly believe that if you show passion for what you’re doing, it will inspire the same dedication in others. What this does is promote different ways of thinking. Suddenly industry challenges are being approached in ways you may not have considered before.

Build a community of open dialogue

In generating a conversation with those in your industry, think beyond “what can you do for me?” and instead consider “how can we support each other?” Share tools for success with one another in open dialogue to encourage prosperity.

You should not only be taking part in this dialogue but also leading the conversation. Getting involved with industry forums and conferences, for instance, promotes healthy, trusting relationships within both your industry community and local communities that matter to your business. Lightspeed will also often host roundtables for this purpose.

Mandate a mission that supports an industry

At its roots, your corporate culture should be selfless and support improving the industry as a whole. For example, Lightspeed’s mission is to bring cities and communities to life by powering independent business. This mandate to support an industry should trickle down to all your employees. It’s imperative that your mission not only follows this standard but that it’s well-enforced across the executive team and woven into all aspects of your business.

It’s these guidelines that will serve a more advanced industry: one that encourages innovation, embraces change, and adapts to trends and customer demands. Being a leader that looks beyond customers strengthens your brand reputation and establishes you as an authority in the field. It’s likely you’ll open doors to new opportunities while reaching prospective customers you may not have otherwise.

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