This Is When You Know You’re Just the Leader Your Team Needs
You have to learn to share ownership.
The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question,” What leadership style should every entrepreneur try to adopt?” is written by Diane McIntyre, partner at Calibre One.
Developing a healthy, high-performance leadership style is a delicate balance. Most entrepreneurs are dialed in on drive — forging forward and seizing opportunities all day long at breakneck speeds. The greatest challenge is often taking the time to include others and making the effort to build a great team. Prevailing entrepreneurs learn to balance driving forward with team-building, successfully creating a company that goes from “me” to “we.” Here’s how you can do the same:
As an entrepreneur, you’re a fast-paced breed. You’re inclined to run ahead of the team. In your eagerness to make things happen, you may find yourself chasing down opportunities that aren’t even on the rest of the team’s radar. That sense of urgency pushes decisions to be made quickly, often without communication and without including others in the process. The outcome is a company that revolves around you, the entrepreneur. It remains your company, your dream, your passion, and your skills. The rest of the team will try everything they can to keep up, but over time, if they can’t catch up, they’ll burn out and throw in the towel.
Keep in mind that startups are more likely to fail than succeed. While the right product or service for the right market is essential for survival, the path to success requires an extraordinary team with an extraordinary leader who enables people to reach their highest potential.
Share the load
Entrepreneurial enthusiasm is often perceived as arrogance, or an unwillingness to listen. Allowing others to contribute and take ownership is often the hardest thing for an entrepreneur to do.
You have to create an environment where employees feel like they have a stake in the success. No one wants to be part of a company they feel doesn’t need them to begin with. Create opportunities for your team to get involved in the decision-making process and use their skills to solve problems. If you give the right people the chance to step up, they’ll often surprise you.
I experienced this firsthand as part of a six-person search firm startup. Although I was very new to the game, the founding partner went out of his way to include me in high-level meetings, client calls, and presentations. Before I knew it, I was given the reigns for my first CEO search. Although I was pushed outside of my comfort zone, he had the insight not to drop me in situations where I could fail. By consistently providing each of us with the opportunity to own it, we became a tight team and gave it our all. The success of the company became our dream.
Ultimately, I gained the confidence and valuable experience needed to excel in my field, and the firm grew to be one of the premiere search firms in the technology industry.
Go from “me” to “we”
Going from me to we starts with recognizing that success requires tapping into talents and skill sets you don’t have. Simply stated, the greatest asset that you have is those on your team who see what you can’t. Yes, they may slow you down, but ultimately putting in the effort to build the right team will pay off. Choose teammates who have the capacity to run with you — who learn quickly, complement your skills sets, and are driven, passionate, and enthusiastic. They’ll bring out your best and you won’t feel like you have to pull them along.
Invest time mapping out next steps, seek your employees’ input, let them make decisions, and give them your trust. When decisions, ideas, and projects move forward that you didn’t come up with, you know you’re making progress.
Becoming an effective leader isn’t easy. It takes a great deal of commitment to create a place where people can do their best work and still love doing it. It’s about creating a culture that inspires your employees to take your entrepreneurial vision and make it their own. John Quincy Adams summed it up quite nicely: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.”