Strong Leaders Are Lifetime Students
Entrepreneurial leaders do not have a mindset that adapts to failure. Things go wrong, of course, but entrepreneurs don’t call them “failures” they call them “glitches, mistakes, bungles, setbacks” – but not failing.
When one such entrepreneur was asked about the hardest decision he ever had to make, he answered that he didn’t know what a hard decision was. An entrepreneur will approach decision-making with the idea that there’s a strong likelihood that he/she will be wrong. This doesn’t dissuade them – to the contrary they just do the best they can and worry about handling obstacles as they arise.
Another way of looking at it is to realize that you will make mistakes, so make them as quickly as you can in order to learn from them. A good leader doesn’t view making mistakes as negative or irrevocable, he/she feels free to press on and try something new. There is the belief that something useful has been learned, and hopefully not at a high cost.
Let’s face it; if you’re going to live this life you’re going to make mistakes. Make use of them as learning tools and don’t make the same ones twice.
Entrepreneurs also know the value of “intuition”. While you shouldn’t act on the results of tossing a coin, there is something to be said about your “gut” feeling about the situation. Very often business people become so involved with systems and checks-and-balances that they forget about that “gut” instinct they had when they started.
While not strictly logical, intuition does draw on a combination of experience, knowledge, and analysis as well as a lot of “gut” information you may have forgotten that you have.
You become a strong leader in your business by “practicing” being a leader. It’s not a course you can take at a business college; it’s learned in the school of life as you’re doing business.
As a leader, you have to set standards and higher standards for your own behavior. You must do this because appearances are sometimes more important that facts.
Consider for a moment that as an entrepreneur with a small business you’re planning on approaching a bank for a loan. You know that you must present a well thought out and concise Business Plan, with all the projections for the use of the capital you’ll borrow and the repayment of the same. You learned that from all those seminars you attended when considering becoming an entrepreneur, but is there something that you weren’t taught in seminars? What about “presentation”?
I don’t mean the presentation of the Business Plan, we all know that must be well done and attractive. What I’m talking about is YOU! Do you maintain the appearance of leadership? Do you project a confident appearance of a successful entrepreneur? You may not have the faintest idea today how you’re going to pay for that advertising bill coming due on the 15th, but you’re not going to give that banker that information.
Presenting yourself as a confident entrepreneur, filled with the excitement of your business idea, and a strong leader of your team (whether it’s 1 or 10 employees) is what will make you a winner and add untold weight to your Business Plan. After all, you are your business to that banker so you’d better look good and confident.
To protect that faith that your people and your customers have in your organization, always ask yourself these two questions:
1. Could this be interpreted by anyone in a way that would shake their faith in my leadership?
2. Could this be misinterpreted and held against me or the company?
Strong leaders know that leadership is a lifelong learning experience, and when they make a mistake they simply continue to move forward. The ability to bounce back is a quality that every entrepreneur I’ve ever known has in abundance.
When you blunder, get up and try again quickly. As one high-tech executive I knew put it, “Our strategy is to fail forward fast.”