Most entrepreneurs and business owners I work with recognize that they must assume and exercise a primary leadership position, but many will admit that they do not thrive in this role.
They don’t have the impact they expected, and they don’t feel the personal satisfaction they need for higher-level motivation. This is a tough challenge for any coach and mentor.
I’ve never had a definitive list of recommendations for overcoming these qualms, so I was excited to see the insights in a new book, “Arrive and Thrive,” by Susan MacKenty Brady, Janet Foutty, and Lynn Perry Wooten. While their main focus is on female business leaders, I am convinced that the same insights and recommendations apply to all aspiring business leaders.
These authors bring a wide range of experience and practice in business leadership, as executives, real world consultants and academic researchers. They assure us that your fears and doubts are normal, but the next step in your journey is more than possible if you focus on this important set of exercises with full intention, awareness and dexterity in action:
1. Use your best talents and strengths.
We all know our own strengths and weaknesses, and too many of you spend too much energy complaining about weaknesses rather than exploiting strengths. The power of strengths is the positive impact on everything you say and do, the increase in your well-being and lasting resilience.
At the same time, but as a second priority, I think it pays to reduce the main weaknesses. Even though you will never be good at all tasks, some are so important that it is worth the extra effort to learn more, practice and achieve minimal competence.
2. Embrace the real you as your competitive advantage.
Accept the fact that authenticity is necessary for leadership effectiveness. A willingness to share yourself in appropriate and honest ways builds trust, respect, and following. If you make a mistake, acknowledge it and work on making things better. Engage trusted relationships for feedback and guidance.
In my experience, the values that represent the real one can and should change as you learn, then react and adapt to real-world situations. Your team will quickly sense your insights and sincerity, leading to greater impact and satisfaction for everyone.
3. Cultivate the courage to do honest introspection.
The support currently provided by product service may become insufficient to satisfy new customers as your growth and image become more widely known. Be prepared to create and train a dedicated support group that can keep up with your now larger and growing installation base of demanding customers.
Also keep in mind that customers today are looking for a totally memorable experience dealing with your business, rather than just product support. You need the courage and introspection to lead your team to this new level of expectation despite the challenges.
4. Proactively prepare for the unexpected in business.
To thrive as a business leader, you need to assume there will be changes and crises, and develop resilience to bounce back and adapt. Let business change practice self-empowerment, self-assurance, and alignment. Form collaborative relationships to help and support you.
5. Engage others in inspiring a bold vision of change.
Inspiring vision means taking note of what needs to change and what you believe in yourself. Creating trust and involving others in that vision. In times of crisis, that vision will be seen as leadership, and people will follow you and think about what’s next, resulting in the progress you desire.
6. Create a healthy, safe, low-risk team environment.
Sincerity and empathy are essential to establish the trust and respect of team members, leading to engagement, genuine communication and commitment to the leader. Practice working together and supporting your team so that they feel safe, valued and bond with you and the company.
7. Bet on being an inclusive leader, an ally for all.
Be aware of and fight against the prejudices that can arise in any environment or that arise from your personal background. Counteract groupthink by listening openly to a variety of different voices. Collaborate with peers from underrepresented groups, support their success and make them arrive and thrive.
Since you are in positions of greater responsibility, risk, and reward, the practices described here provide the foundation for making more effective and satisfying choices for yourself, your team, and even your community.
It’s up to you to keep up with the pace of change all around you and in today’s business, and thrive while also taking your team with you.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not Inc.com’s.
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