'Lead with honesty,' and 6 other lessons for business owners

As president of The UPS Store, Tim Davis is in a unique leadership position. He not only oversees employees at the corporate headquarters in San Diego, but he's also responsible for fostering relationships with the franchisees that run more than 4,500 The UPS Store locations across the U.S.

Prior to joining The UPS Store, Davis was serving in the United States Marine Corps, where he picked up seven years' worth of valuable lessons that helped him pave his way into a corporate leadership role. Here, Davis shares his best advice for business owners and aspiring leaders.

1. Critical feedback is essential

Davis quickly learned the value of feedback during his time as a captain in the Marine Corps (no longer on active duty)—especially when it was negative. "You were constantly in situations, either in real life or in practice, where you were going to be evaluated on what judgment you used and the quality of your leadership skills," he says. "And let me tell you—your peers would absolutely set you straight in a second if you were out of line."

When feedback is an important part of the culture, Davis explains, it's easier to understand that it's part of the development process. "You could be accepting of it because you know everyone's really trying to make the best organization possible," he says. "You see it for that and not as a personal attack."

2. Don't overthink opportunities

Transitioning from the military into the private sector was a "leap of faith" for Davis, but it paid off. Looking to change your career? He advises to just make a decision and embrace it.

"I've seen people torture themselves over one decision that felt so big at that moment, but in truth, it wasn't the key to their success or failure," Davis says. "It's really a series of decisions that make your career, make your life, or make whatever trajectory you're on."

3. Money is not the best motivator

"Financial rewards are often dangled out as carrots and talked about frequently as a motivator," Davis notes. "But people want to have a purpose. What I think motivates people most is connecting their purpose with the purpose of your company."

"Our franchisees do heroic things for customers," he says, recalling a story of a Minnesota franchisee, who spent four years trying to reunite a son with his veteran father's mementos. "That's one reason why I'm excited to come to work every day."

4. Recognize weaknesses and delegate accordingly

If someone has a great idea that they turn into a business, but can't delegate responsibility for those functions that are not their forte, they could be getting in the way of their own success, Davis observes. "If you're good at developing ideas and turning those into products or services, that's one thing; but you may not be good at payroll or marketing."

As a leader, you should cultivate people's strengths and let them do their job, Davis explains. "Find the people you trust and let them do the things they're good at."

5. Community relationships are key

Though brick and mortar is changing, "retail is not going to go away," Davis says. "It's just going to be different. You can't just sit behind a counter and wait for people to come in. You have to develop relationships with customers and other businesses in your community. If you're not present, you leave a lot of opportunity for success untapped."

"At the end of the day," Davis continues, "I still believe people like to do business with other people, especially people they know and trust, and especially those people who are in their own community."

6. Lead with honesty and integrity

"You can't lead people who don't trust you," Davis reports. "If they can go home at the end of the day knowing that they trust your judgment and that you genuinely care for their welfare, they will keep giving you their best."

In business, he says, there are a lot of grey areas. "It doesn't matter that we are technically right about something," Davis says. "But did we present the situation in a way that demonstrates to our franchisees, associates and customers that we are a business operation with integrity and good intentions? Because at the end of the day, The UPS Store is trying to grow the business because we think we have great services and passionate franchisees who want to help people—that's the message we hope resonates most."

7. Mistakes are learning opportunities

"If you're going to lead, one of the things you're going to have to get used to is that you're going to make mistakes," Davis advises. "How you handle those mistakes is what you're going to be judged by."

"You have to have resilience. I believe in getting up, dusting yourself off, and moving on. I don't think that's hard for people who operate with a sense of integrity and genuine desire to do well," Davis continues. "Mistakes are part of any leader's history, and they're also opportunities to learn. That's how you gain experience, and that experience gives you wisdom so you don't make the same mistakes again."

The views expressed are those of Tim Davis and do not reflect the official policy or position of Department of Defense or the U.S. government.

Photo credits: John Trice; inset courtesy The UPS Store

This page was paid for by The UPS Store. The editorial staff of CNBC had no role in the creation of this page.