The image of the successful entrepreneur has often been expressed as the powerful individualist, the maverick or one-of-a-kind hold out. The truth, however, is most great entrepreneurs are first and foremost great team leaders.
Let’s face it, no great discovery or invention has ever been accomplished without the collaboration of a great team. Whether it is in the world of business, science or even politics, team leadership is the critical fulcrum. Volumes have been written on leadership as it relates to business success. But today the requirements of leaders are changing like never before. I thought I’d take a few moments to discuss some of the key ways to lead a successful entrepreneurial team:
1. Task Management is Passe – Because the world that we live in is more of a “relationship-based” society it is critical that leaders focus on deepening relationships rather than managing tasks. Certainly, it is easier to check-up on our team to see if they have completed assigned tasks but this is merely the surface of commitment. By connecting at a personal level with our people, we can ensure that they are fully bought into the vision and mission of the organization. This is far more valuable than merely getting the daily “tasks” checked-off.
2. The Blending of Business and Personal Lives – It used to be that a “balanced lifestyle” is what we would strive to achieve. Today it is no longer possible to achieve a life where our work and personal lives are neatly compartmentalized. Cell phones, email, and instant messaging has seen to that. Rather, it is essential that team leaders buy-into and get their families to buy into the blended lifestyle approach. This doesn’t mean working round the clock but rather melding some of our business and personal relationships so that there is greater overlap. It also means getting to know our team on a more personal level. No longer do people leave their personal lives at the door when they enter our business in the morning. They bring with them the baggage of their personal lives. As leaders, it is our role to deal with this as well as the mundane work issues.
3. Conflict is Necessary – We have been told all our lives that raising conflict or creating confrontation is wrong and even socially unacceptable. It many cases it is politically offensive to even think of raising any conflict. But it is impossible to create change without some type of conflict or confrontation. I have noticed that many managers today feel that they take two steps back and one step forward when they choose to confront unacceptable behavior. Yet when we choose NOT to confront, we are reinforcing this behavior. We are compromising our vision and are giving-up on our team. We are essentially admitting that they are not “good enough” to achieve their or our goals.
4. Mourning Lost Relationships – Today as leaders, we need to be willing to blaze new paths into uncharted territory. Like the great explorers of the past leading is as much rejecting followers as it is accepting them. If we are in fact leading the charge into a brave new future then it stands to reason that we will be leaving some relationships of the past behind. This will involve some mourning. It amazes me how much resistance I get in my coaching when I tell someone that they will need to change some of their relationships. The fact is it is impossible to grow interpersonally and expect to take ALL of our relationships of the past with us. Growth requires some pain and tension. Not everyone will want to tackle this type of internal personal challenge. As leaders, we need to understand this about ourselves and help our team to deal with this mourning process as well.
I hope that some of this rings true for you as a leader. Entrepreneurialism today is in many ways the mirror image of what it has been in the past. It is more about the growth of the team than ever before. Our job as leaders is to hold ourselves to a higher level of accountability and to hold our team to that level. When this happens, revolutionary change takes place and nothing can hold us back from breaking through our barriers to success and leading our team to achieve their ultimate vision.
Have a great week!-Mark Deo