Afraid to Lead

Leadership or Ownership

Ask a group of people what traits characterize business owners and somewhere in the list you’ll probably find the term “leadership.”

It’s not unexpected that the public perception of business owners includes leadership. After all, why would someone start a business if they didn’t want to lead it?

In reality, it’s not unusual for me to run into business owners who shy away from leadership. In their minds, ownership and leadership are two different things.

These unintentional leaders started with a great idea and decided to do something about it. They found an opportunity to make money and seized it. They were good at something, so people paid them to do it.

Before long, their interesting little endeavor turned into a bona fide company, and companies need leaders.

Choose to Lead

Although it appears to come naturally to many, in reality, becoming a leader is a choice. You pick up the torch and carry it, or turn away.

Leadership is not for the faint of heart. It’s a mindset that embraces doing what others are too timid to do:

Leaders set strategy. They choose their own path, with help from the outside when they need it. They’re not afraid of input from experts. they seek it. Leaders understand that as bright as they are, they don’t know everything.

Leaders own their results. They know that no matter how strong a team they have, the ultimate accountability for outcomes rests with them. As a result, leaders assemble top players and excellent advisors. They listen, consider, and decide for themselves.

Leaders make tough choices. They hire and fire, make critical decisions, and stand by their convictions rather than bowing to pressure from others. They embrace frank conversations, provide constructive feedback, and have a bias for action.

Leaders power through. Like everyone, they feel stress, anxiety and uncertainty. What sets leaders apart is their ability to uses these emotions as guideposts, helping them sense which route follow, even if that requires running toward their fear instead of away from it.

Own It

As I told a client recently, “You can’t delegate leadership.” You have to own it.

To be a successful business owner, you must embrace the role of a leader. If you’d rather abdicate leadership, you’re better off being a silent partner or an investor in someone else’s business venture.

The good news is you can learn to lead. There are lots of resources you can turn to, including books, courses, peer groups and mentors. (Get my free list of leadership resources.)

Most importantly, get a good coach to work with you one-on-one to develop your skills. They’ll help you identify where to improve, and keep you on track when you need extra encouragement.

Leaders Evolve

Leadership is not a static skill. If you commit to work at developing strengths instead of caving to weaknesses, your leadership abilities will develop, too.

Stretching yourself feels uncomfortable at first, but when you’re passionate about what you do, it’s worth it to master the leadership skills that you need to excel.

If you need help evolving from owner to leader, contact me for a confidential consultation.

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