5 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Grow as Leaders
Whatever other roles you may hold as an entrepreneur, you are a leader. Even if you don’t end up being the startup’s CEO, you’re the leader. They’ll follow your lead because you came up with the idea and thus have an understanding of it no one else has.
Ideas are not enough. You must lead your company to glory. You’ll make the tough calls and establish the mission and vision that’ll guide the company long after you’ve left. It’s your job to make sure the start-up ship’s course righted before anyone figures out they’ve drifted off course. Here are a few ways you can grow as a leader.
1. Engage Your Employees
Leadership is not one-sided. If your employees don’t care, it doesn’t matter how charismatic or appealing you are. You’ll fail as a leader. You can fix that by making sure your employees are as engaged and as passionate as you are, something you can do by visibly expressing those traits. When people see managerial personnel who care about the business and the people in it, they’ll start feeling like they’re part of a team.
This makes your behavior important. Be positive around employees and customers, and you’ll infect them with that positivity. Shout and thrash, and you’ll promote that behavior. This also means communicating positively with your employees. People are often more engaged when they feel like you’re listening. Once you’ve got that rolling, your leadership will become more effective.
2. Embrace Humility
It’s easy to get a big head as an entrepreneur. You came up with a great idea, convinced enough people to invest in it to create a business, and have employees who follow your orders. The problem is being a braggart rarely makes for an acceptable leader.
You may have created the product on your own, but you didn’t create the startup on your own. You need investors and employees to keep the company running. The moment you take them for granted, they’ll stop respecting you. Treat them with the respect and value they deserve. Without your followers, you can’t be a leader.
3. Understand That Leadership is a Skill
Succeeding as an entrepreneur requires a specific set of skills. The same is said of being a leader. While there are people who take to leadership like fish to water, it doesn’t mean it’s limited to them. Anyone can learn to lead. The moment you recognize that is the moment you can start learning how to lead. A deliberate study can make you a good leader. It may take stepping out of your comfort zone, but that’s a small price to pay when compared to the ability to inspire the troops.
4. Figure Out Your Style
Some entrepreneurs like to fly by the seat of their pants, taking daring moves in an effort to establish their start-ups. Others are far more meticulous, taking the long but ultimately safer road to victory. Still, others take a mix of both, shifting gears as appropriate. This is not the only place where you’ll find variance in approach. There are different leadership styles and it’s important to find yours as soon as possible. Your style will largely be determined by your strengths, weaknesses, and personality. If you’re having trouble figuring it out, you can take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test to give you a starting point.
5. Give Yourself Time to Be a Leader
You have a lot of responsibilities as an entrepreneur. Much of your time will be spent just sorting out the day-to-day affairs of running a start-up. You can easily end up focusing on the most alarming issue instead of getting the to-do list sorted. Leadership can easily fall by the wayside.
Leadership, like any of your other responsibilities, requires time. This is not something you can afford to only spend time on when you have room to breathe. Make it a priority and set aside time in your schedule for leadership activities. This is time spent talking to the troops and tackling important strategic issues for the start-up.
You can’t make it as an entrepreneur without being a good leader. Fortunately, much like math, you survive in the world of entrepreneurship with just the basics. Get those down and you’ll perform well, though nothing should stop you from being the best leader you can be.