“Everyone can lead because everyone can serve.”
– James Strock
Leadership is one of the most important aspects of a business. Without leadership, things don’t get done. Leadership doesn’t have a title, people with authority aren’t necessarily real leaders, and there are real leaders who don’t have authority. All it takes is someone willing to step forward and get things done. If you’ve started your own business, congratulations, you’re a leader. Unfortunately, leadership isn’t as simple as the push of a button, it’s a constant balancing act.
Real Leaders Serve Others
It may seem backwards, but leading by serving others creates trust and influence, the key ingredients that make people want to follow someone. This is the first balancing act. As a leader you need to support your team so they can get the job done, but you can’t go too far and give in to their every want.
Real Leaders Are Humble
Another questionable statement. One of the benefits of ego is self confidence. It gives us the belief that we can do something amazing, like start a business. But when ego gets out of control, it turns into arrogance, which keeps people from taking valuable advice. It’s important to balance humility and ego to have enough confidence in yourself while still being open minded enough to know that you can learn something from everyone. Some people can only be examples of what NOT to do, but that can be very helpful.
Being able to look at yourself and your business honestly will help you find areas of improvement, ways you can get better and succeed instead of becoming stagnant.
Real Leaders Take Responsibility When Things Go Wrong
Blame doesn’t solve problems. As a leader, you need to take responsibility when things go wrong and focus on how to solve the problem. No excuses or blame. If an employee didn’t understand the direction you gave them, don’t blame them for not listening, take responsibility to make sure they understand what you’re telling them. Asking, “Do you understand?” isn’t going to cut it. Have them explain it back to you in their own words. You’ll learn if there are any disconnects between what you’re trying to say and what people here. This isn’t about getting others to take responsibility, it’s about taking responsibility yourself. When you stop blaming others and focus on solving the problem, things get done.
Real Leaders Give Clear Direction & Trust Others
Complexity is the enemy of execution. You can spend hours and hours planning out every little detail to get a task done and the only thing you’ll accomplish is wasting time. If you’re giving direction to someone else, you need to provide them with a clear understanding of the outcome you want without overwhelming them with details. Then you need to trust them to get the job done without micromanaging them. Let them know if you want to see a rough start of their progress to make sure things are on the right track, or if you want to see the finished product. Give your people a goal and let them figure out how to get there, and they’ll often surprise you.
Real Leaders Plan and Take Initiative
Be proactive to solve problems. Set up priorities and act on them. Be aggressive towards your goals (but not towards your teammates). Transparency continues to grow with every passing day. Whatever you do, good or bad, can become public knowledge in an instant. Nobody wants to make mistakes, but they happen, and when they do, you need to address them immediately and let the other person know that you’ll make it right. That client or customer will have more respect for you for admitting a mistake than if you tried putting the blame on someone else. Problems get bigger when you ignore them and smaller when you attack them.
The balance here is being able to listen. If you’ve decided on a plan of action and you’re met with concerns, listen to them. Others have different perspectives and can see potential hazards that we’re not aware of. Take these into consideration and balance them against the results. Don’t spend hours changing your plan if it’s only going to give you a 3% benefit.