Business leadership, like any form of leadership, isn’t an academic exercise.
No amount of training and education can prepare you for the full-contact application of the art and science of business leadership.
The blueprint of what you learn in books and in the classroom, including business cases, may not even vaguely resemble the reality of what you experience on a daily basis in the boardroom, on the plant floor or while sitting across the table from potential customers.
It is the crucible where the ideal meets the real.
That’s when and where uncertainty and risk enter into your leadership equation. How you respond to the stuff that gets thrown at you is the proving ground for your business leadership.
One of my favorite leadership quotes is from the iconic and controversial General George S. Patton, Jr.
“No good decision was ever made in a swivel chair.” ~ George S. Patton, Jr.
Business leadership involves a tremendous portion of trust. Trust isn’t a given just because you have a certain job title. The trust of others is earned by your actions over time.
You have heard the phrase “leadership by example.”
The applied art and science of business leadership is greater than the sum of the parts of lectures, webinars, seminars and training programs. Those programs establish the foundation of the mindset, discipline and tools you will need to lead.
When you listen to customers and colleagues, you first search your memory for an academic example you learned. How might you apply it to the situation at hand?
Eventually you cease searching what you learned in the past. You focus on perceiving and assessing what you are experiencing in the moment.
Because that specific business case scenario may not have existed until you and your associates had that specific, provocative conversation. At that specific moment.
Business leadership takes everything you learn and continually hard-wires it into how you perceive the outside world and process the information you acquire.
The ideal indeed meets the real at that interface.
Business leadership is focused on the decisions you make – and they are not made alone. It is about the actions you take – and they are not taken on your own. It is about the consequences of your actions, and the responsibility and accountability you assume.
Courage and heart under fire aren’t learned in the classroom.
Business leadership is born from having had your head handed back to you on a silver platter at least six times over the course of your career. Because you took the risk of being honest versus telling your customers what they wanted to hear.
Business leadership results from your commitment to providing clients with the information they need to make those hard calls. Even when their businesses appear to have healthy revenue streams.
Business leadership evolves into your colleagues and customers asking you “What do you think?” rather than “Can you do this?” It is the difference in being perceived as an innovator rather than an order-taker.
Business leadership is messy, multi-factorial and non-linear. Even when you develop what you feel are the most disciplined and robust processes and practices.
Leadership constantly challenges how you walk your talk.
Business leadership tests the robust aspects of your business, taking them beyond their maximum. Your business leadership forges those processes and practices so they become most flexible and competitive under fire.
How will you forge your business leadership skills?
Babette N. Ten Haken, President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, is a business coach and management consultant. Her Workshops create Playbooks for startups and small to mid-size companies who want to grow, expand and sustain their businesses, but wrestle with unpredictable revenue streams. Her Playbook on leadership, business development and collaboration strategies, including tools, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com.