How to Lead: The Value of Self-awareness in Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurs have a difficult time learning to recognize when they are going off course. Ask any group of entrepreneurs who have started or grown their business and ask them what is the single most important lesson that they have learned along the way and the answer will likely be to be more self-aware. These entrepreneurs will tell you that this is a problem because they are often finding themselves in a position where they do not know when they are wrong, how to avoid it, or the best way to apologize.
How This Problem is Common in Entrepreneurship
It is all too common for entrepreneurs to focus on “what do I need to do next” or the new business to move forward to get them through one obstacle after another. For every success there is a failure. For every successful challenge there is one or more challenges that get in the way.
Unfortunately, the lesson leaders need to learn when following orders instead of being willing to demonstrate the value of leadership is how to follow. That process of leadership involves asking for direction rather than expecting the other person to give it. It entails learning to understand the purpose of the guidance and how to answer it before acquiescing and leading.
This does not mean giving orders. Instead, learning how to learn the purpose and motivation behind the direction and follow with respect is critical to being a leader, building the team, and maintaining a cohesive organizational strategy.
Here are a few areas where this can apply to different leadership positions.
Leadership Selection Process
All the top leaders in the world have a bit of truth in their leadership DNA. When they choose someone to assist them with their decision making and workflow they generally expect follow. So ask yourself some questions when selecting someone to join your team as a contractor, a partner, a part-time employee, or even as a family member.
What kind of person does someone like you want? Do you have expectations of what a successful person should look like? What is their set of values and motivations? What are their greatest strengths and weaknesses? Are they willing to listen? Are they willing to take the leadership risk? Are they willing to make the trade-offs to get what they need from your business? What is their connection to the product or the market you serve? What do they look for in leadership qualities?
Expect to be a Team Player
The odds are that no one ever graduated college with a pre-workout routine. And who could afford to work out? No one in their right mind would expect their family to be a part of their routine. We work out every day and we enjoy it.
Similarly, you have to expect that your family members will need to be a part of your leadership. They are your support network. Be willing to treat them like you would treat your best friend. How would you handle a crisis, a sick family member, a job loss, or a breakdown? In this same vein, be sure to speak up about the things that you want. Be mindful of which decisions you are willing to make.
Do Not Excuse Your Boffins as Your Only Competitors
Very few innovations came without inventors. In fact, business and supply chain concepts come from numerous independent minds. Then there are the hackers, garage tinkerers, and hack heroes. As business owners we need to understand our limitations as we try to control all aspects of our business. Do not tell your top managers that they are the sole competitors, they’re not, and no one can “tame” you. The best entrepreneurs know that smart people are around them and also know how to surround themselves with strong people that they can trust and spend time around to push their thinking to even higher levels.
Don’t Be Blind to Your Sales Habit
“I know that sales will be the best, but don’t you tell me I have no chance.” Well, if you don’t think sales can be the best part of your business and ignore it you will soon find that you don’t know what the business is really worth. Because it will take more to provide a product or service that people will pay to have in their homes or places of work.