If you've spent any time in the world of politics, sales, or productivity boosting, you know Daniel Pink. He's authored countless best-selling books (e.g., To Sell Is Human) that supercharge efficiency, confidence, and leadership.
Recently, he published a book called The Power of Regret, for which he collected some 16,000 regrets from individuals across numerous countries, industries, and backgrounds.
The one he just revealed on Twitter is particularly apt for new leaders, trying to establish authority and trust with everyone from new employees to wary investors.
It comes from a 39-year-old woman in Saudi Arabia: "I regret being less smart and inventive than I actually am simply to please or not upset others," she wrote.
That, in my experience, underscores one of the biggest mistakes most new leaders make.
In the shaky early days of business, it's tempting to slide into the role of Pleaser in Chief. After all, you're keen on buy-in from top talent, potential partners, buyers, the community. You want everyone to like you so they'll invest time, talent, and money into your new venture.
The problem is, when you sweep your ideas under the rug or "put them on a back burner," you're undermining your own leadership. Yes, those around you--including those whom you very much need on board--will have opinions. They'll want to steer you in this direction or that one. But it's your company. Your vision. Speak up and own your own ideas. Not only will it serve the future of your business, but people will trust you to lead, giving them confidence in their own contributions.
The other piece of this, of course, is what Pink makes clear at the end of his tweet: You can't just speak your ideas and develop your own authority. You have to build a culture that allows others to speak up, too.
One of the pieces of a complete entrepreneurship puzzle is outside input. Yes, you are the leader--you provide direction, purpose, and make business-critical decisions. But long-term success is only possible when you have a team (or several teams) of engaged, talented individuals sharing their expertise on how the company should grow.
Demonstrate open conversation, debate, and idea-sharing, then open the door to other voices that will shore up future success.
I'll add this as an addendum to Pink's exhortation: Revisit both your leadership tactics and open discussion on a regular basis. Both require ongoing effort and are easy to drop as business grows and work becomes more complicated. If you lose sight of either one, however, you risk your future success--and inspire votes of no-confidence in your leadership.