How to become a better leader.

After meeting with dozens of small business owners every week, I’ve realized that entrepreneurs stand to gain more than anyone else when they become great leaders.  If you ever read the book “The E-Myth,” it describes how business owners can move towards true entrepreneurship when they work diligently at developing systems, documenting those systems, in a disciplines way as if you’d be trying to franchise in the future.  As business owners work on moving up in this, they are required to grow their team.

When you work with people, it’s obvious that you’ll need to work on your management skills, but leadership and vision is one factor that separates mediocrity from excellence.

Management is accomplishing things with people and resources.

Leading is helping others, and the organization, move towards a vision of the future.

“Leadership is influence” as John Maxwell would say. Great entrepreneurs need to find their mix of leadership and management, particularly when they’re wearing so many hats already.

Do Entrepreneurs need to be good leaders?

Wearing 6 different hats, making a payroll, and shoveling out 40% of your profits in taxes, can cause business owners to take the easy route concerning how they lead their people – which is an ugly form of management.

But when a business owner invests in their leadership ability, they’ll find that their entire organization suddenly starts to shift upwards.

That’s because leaders are in the business of inspiring, motivating, and leading the charge towards a vision of the future..

Entrepreneurs will transform their business when they go from managing people, to rallying the team to pursue an inspiring vision.

Leaders cast vision, pursue vision, manage towards a vision, and relentlessly lead by example towards the vision.

A group transforms from “Staff” to a “team” when they aren’t just doing business together, but they are relentlessly pursuing a passion inducing vision; but it’s not just a vision for the businesses success, the vision of employee success must be melded together into one, in an authentic manner.

Nobody likes to come to work and feel stuck or unappreciated.

Everybody loves being involved and appreciated in the pursuit of something bigger than themselves.

This doesn’t mean you have create fake hype about selling widgets for fixing things, it means that you need to develop a vision that includes your company, as well as your team members career path, future wealth, and role in the organization.

A leader works to find what’s important to each of his team members, and then helps meld the vision of both the company and each team member.

Leadership Starts with Vision

As we dive a little deeper into why leadership is important for an entrepreneur, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of vision.

Vision is incredibly important because it’s what provides the gravitational pull and desires of the team.

When employees see a future where they’re going to profit financially, professionally, and in other meaningful ways, it’s much easier for them to get out of bed in the morning and service or sell widgets.

When I think about the difference the importance of being a great leader, I think about how all of us are trying to go from “here.” to “there.”

What i mean is that there is a preferable future that pretty much everyone seeks; greater success, authority, wealth, relational quality, and contentment.

I think leadership is like climbing a mountain with multiple levels. Each level has a barrier, and everyone’s trying to get to the top.

Leadership is all about how you elevate others “upwards and forwards”.

At the top, is the favor of management, peers, friends, society, and success. Pretty much everyone wants to “climb to the pinnacle of success”, even if we’d argue about what true greatness is.

Leaders bring people from “here” to “there” by using their influence, motivation and vision.

Whether you have organizational authority or not, you’re part of this group trying to head up the mountain of success,  trying to go “upwards and forwards”.

There are many barriers on the journey up.  Some you can scale on your own, but the meaningful breakthroughs can only happen with a team of people

Watch this little part of Disney’s movie “Tangled”.  Flynn is like a bad leader, he gets over the barrier only to leave others behind.

There’s a huge difference between genuine servant leadership, and using people to get ahead.

The key to becoming a great leader is to start caring about the people around you, learning what barriers they face, connecting with them as part of your team, and working diligently to align company goals with each team members goals.

A servant leader is someone who places the best interests of team members above their own.  It’s kind of ironic, because by placing the best interest of your people ahead of your own, you actually benefit yourself the most because your value increases exponentially.

When you’re a great leader, you’ll be getting the team to want to move towards a vision, and they’ll be open to your feedback about their performance as well.

This openness, engagement, and humility in your team members will multiply the quality and quantity of the work they perform – which makes you a multiplier.

Becoming a servant leader, who places the best interests of his team above his own, is the hallmark of a great leader.

Our ability to be a servant leader is tied to our Motivations. 

Think of the different ways you can be motivated as a leader.  Using the analogy of climbing over barriers to scale the mountain, here are some that I came up with:

  • You can use other people, leveraging your power or influence at the present time in order to manipulate everyone to push and pull you over the barrier.
  • You might be worming your way through sweet-talk to those who are “higher up” than you are, or
  • you might be building real relationships with those on the other side by connecting and communicating.
  • You might push yourself up on the shoulders of others
  • You might get down on a knee to lift others up ahead of yourself
  • You might be concerned with getting there as fast as possible
  • You might slow down and move large groups together towards the top
  • You might be using the people on your own level to get them to prop you up, so you can hop over and never look back.
  • Or maybe you get tot he top of the wall, and you make it your goal to assist people in moving upward as well by coaching and training.

Servant Leadership Makes you the best kind of Leader:

The best leaders are those who are concerned for the people around them. They make it their goal to utilize the strengths, potential, and synergistic teamwork to get as many people, as far up the mountain as possible. This is about servanthood.

If you’re asking how to become a better leader, it starts with becoming a servant of others.

IF you’re only out to advance your own self interests, glory, and financial position, you and your small business will never be truly great.

But, if you make it your main concern to help move people upward and forward in their life, by sacrificing and helping them,  your team will start heading in the right direction.

The Desires and Motivation of the team, is like rocket fuel for your organization.

How amazing would it be if your team saw the companies best interests as their own and they took ownership of everything they can?

 A passion inducing, intelligently developed vision, combined with servant leadership & competent management, leads to massive organic growth.

In order to be a servant leader, you’ll need to check your own motivations behind your leadership efforts.

If your motivation for leadership is to use people, your team will smell you out as a fraud. If you genuinely serve people, your people will sense your authenticity and respond well.

If you’re looking for deeper reading about this stuff – check out “Good Leaders as Great Questions

Become a more authentic servant leader by Reflecting on these 5 Questions:

  1. Why do I want to lead others?
  2. how important is status to me?
  3. Do others work for me, or are we part of a team?
  4. Do I cheerfully serve others, or is it begrudgingly?
  5. Am I lifting others upward and forward? Are people genuinely better off because I’m on the team?
  6. What tangible ways is the team better because of me? Exactly how is it better?

If you’ve found that you’re mustering lots of “narrative” to keep yourself and others believing that you’re a good leader, it’s time to sit down and do some soul searching.  I highly recommend that you work with a business coach to identify your blind spots, help you develop great Emotional Intelligence, and then hold you accountable for getting traction in these areas.

The Bottom Line:

If you’re reading all this and giving yourself an A+, you might be self deceived.  

That’s pretty blunt, but the problem with blind spots is that we are blind to them.  I’d really encourage you to reach out to your friends, family, and peers to get authentic feedback from them.  If you’re not in a position to have people trust you enough to to share feedback with you, then that’s something you’d need to fix right away.  Why would the people who can help you the most, be hesitant to give you some perspective about ways that you can improve?

The Problem with blind spots, is that we’re blind to them.  

If any of that pierced your heart, but leaves you unable to understand how to handle it, then email me – [email protected], and we can talk about the coaching opportunities I have for entrepreneurs and business owners.

A Business Coach & Development Consultant can help you become aware of your leadership blind spots.