“My Trident is a symbol of honor and heritage. By wearing the Trident I accept the responsibility of my chosen profession and way of life. It is a privilege that I must earn every day.” -- Navy SEAL Creed
Many entrepreneurs and small-business owners struggle with the transition from being the “visionary with a business plan” to the role of manager-leader. If your business grows, however, you will inevitably reach this point, and you better be ready to step up the plate. You have the position, but that doesn't necessarily mean you have the skills. Business leadership, like leadership of any kind, needs to be worked at every day.
Here are six ways to earn your leadership role every day:
Listen and get feedback. Anyone can lose sight of the big picture when embedded in the day-to-day craziness of a growing company. Leaders have to remember to stop and listen every now and then. You probably think you are on the right track and that everyone is on the same page. That doesn’t make it so. Get feedback from your team and ask for their input regularly.
Motivate the team. Motivation isn’t about running around trying to pump everyone up. It’s about knowing your team as a whole, as well as understanding what motivates each individual. Whether it’s giving praise, encouraging innovation, providing great resources, or allowing flexible work schedules, know what drives the team and fuels great morale. Then act on this daily.
Be disciplined. Keeping a team or organization moving in the right direction all the time takes discipline. Discipline of leadership and discipline of team. This takes focus and determination, but if you act with discipline each day you won’t find yourself scrambling to catch up later.
Always be learning. Learning and professional development are paramount to leadership. As our organizations grow, our industries evolve, and technology becomes more advanced, team leaders have to stay on top of their game to stay relevant. Spend a few minutes every day developing your knowledge or skills. Never stop training.
Lead and be led. Nobody is born a great leader. Yes, some people have certain traits inherent for leadership, but great leadership is learned over time. It generally starts with being led by someone else. Find a mentor and learn as much as you can from him or her. The best way to learn how to give orders is to first learn to follow them. Even when you make it to the top of the food chain, make an effort to do a little “following” each day.
Delegate properly. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” The art of delegation is usually an obstacle for budding entrepreneurs and new leaders. You will never get everything done unless you enlist the help of the great talent you put in place. Otherwise, why did you hire them? Let go. Get out of the way. And let them execute. Do this every day and you can’t lose.