You are the CEO of your small to midsized business or startup. With that self-proclaimed title, you are supposed to be leading.
Your “leading”, your leadership, should implicitly be understood by everyone in your organization. The title of President or CEO immediately instills you with awesome, intergalactic powers and charisma.
Except it doesn’t. You are leading. You are only leading yourself. Nobody’s following your self-proclaimed leadership.
Do you work for a company – are you part of an organization – like this one?
Systems, processes, customer acquisition is assumed to be going on, flawlessly, by the person who is leading. Except everyone involved in driving revenue through your organization is waiting: for vision, for direction, for suggestions.
They are waiting for something.
Business leadership, and the fine art of leading others, often is the result of apprenticeship. You, as a true leader, learned from the best while observing both the good and the bad along the way.
Leadership is applied, not assumed.
Business leadership, and the fine art of leading others, is more than buying out a failing company and inserting yourself into the equation – in name only. When you are a Leader, you have Followers who want to believe in you, your vision, your mission.
How have you delivered to them?
Business leadership involves creating a compelling reason for your staff or members to follow you. (Aside from the fact that their paycheck or membership in the organization is contingent upon you.)
Are you leading through assumption? Are you assuming since you are the guy or gal at the top that people, like your customers, buy into you?
Test your assumptions. You may be surprised at what you learn.
How are your organization’s processes throughput these days, if you are an assumptive Figurehead Leader? There must be individuals within your organization who are keeping things moving along, in spite of your absence of applied leadership.
Business leadership, and the fine art of leading, involves a large element of belief. Not only your own confidence in yourself, and your own self-belief. Does everyone in your organization believe in your leadership?
Or are they compensating via workarounds as they take tactical matters into their own hands?
Leadership is a full contact, all hands on deck, enterprise. Just like business and entrepreneurship. There’s nothing theoretical about it.
Over time, the greatest leaders have come from the most humble beginnings. They have found a compelling way to tell their story in a manner which results in people wanting to become part of that ongoing story.
They walk their talk, they apply their position, by actively leading their organization.
True leadership often results in a shared vision that’s the result of collaboration with everyone: top down, bottom up, side to side. Nobody’s marginalized in one person’s quest for leadership glory.
That’s the story everyone – the marketplace, investors, customers, members – willingly and proudly buys into.
Without that story, you are leading in name only. But nobody’s really following at all.
Something to chew on this month.
Babette Ten Haken is Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC. She catalyzes action for business transition, startup growth and professional development. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business, focuses on collaborative value creation and leadership strategies.