3. It can be lonely at the top so bring others with you.
Leaders lead from the front. Leadership requires courage to think differently and lead people (i.e. customers, teams, advocates) from their current state to a more desirable one. This cannot be done if every decision requires a committee and you seek the approval of everyone with a heartbeat.
By nature the front-end of innovation is lonely; but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “You do something no one else has ever done and leave everyone else scratching their heads and howling in protest. As the saying goes, “You can tell who the pioneers are from the arrows sticking out of their backs.”
An article published by the Harvard Business Review (HBR), echoes what most leaders already know — it’s isolating at the top. Especially for entrepreneurs and startup leaders this can be unsettling. The survey found that “half of CEOs report experiencing feelings of loneliness in their role, and of this group, 61 percent believe it hinders their performance. First-time CEOs are particularly susceptible to this isolation.”
Much of the loneliness that entrepreneurial leaders will face is connected to the growing pains of personal development. Jack Welch, former Chairman and CEO of General Electric, suggests that “before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”
In short, leadership is first about growing yourself and later about developing others. As such, personal development is just that – it’s personal. No one but you can make the decision to improve your awareness and identity; develop your talents and potential.
In the process, with your head down and nose to the grind, don’t isolate yourself. Even those with a great team are susceptible to feelings of isolation. So, seek out other leaders within your community that are committed to their personal growth.
As Daniel Newman, author of The Millennial CEO, suggests, “For leadership is rewarding, it is inspiring, it is about passion but it is never about credit. We don’t lead for the credit, we lead for higher purpose and sometimes it is lonely on top, but nevertheless we must lead on.”
4. Be authentic and awesome.
Many entrepreneurs are reluctant to be authentic. But there’s nothing like the real thing! There is also nothing worse than resolving to be a knock-off or cheap imitation of someone else or their business. Imitation in business is the highest form of flattery and the lowest common denominator of self worth. Tweet this!
Authenticity is a bankable currency. It will define your business and set you apart from the clutter of a cookie-cutter marketplace. You (and your customers) are not well-served by being someone else.
According to an HBR article by organizational development professors Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones, “Leadership demands the expression of an authentic self. Try to lead like someone else … and you will fail. Employees will not follow a CEO who invests little of himself in his leadership behaviors. People want to be led by someone ‘real.’” The same can be said for your business and its customers.
Authenticity in business is a baseline of belief in what you say and in what you sell.
It is the courage to offer unique value and market yourself in a way that is consistent with your brand. Understand that being everything to everyone sets you up to be nothing to no one.
Develop an authentic brand and communications platform that consistently says, “This is who we are, this is what we do and this is why we do it.” In short, just be awesome.
Connect with Erica Nicole on Twitter.
Photo: New Look
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