What do Rambo, Rhett Butler and Dirty Harry all have in common? They were each anti-heroes, rebels with a cause. As much as we love these romanticized lone wolf images, none of these men would have been worth a hill of beans in a business setting. While each of them was undoubtedly strong, and ultimately successful in their limited endeavors, none of them was a leader of men (or women).
We love the loose cannon and the drifter. However, very few people achieve real wealth or success working alone. Leaderpreneurship begins with us. However, it cannot end with us. We’re social creatures. How do we build our dream business without employing guerrilla business tactics to gain the upper hand, becoming a profiteer at the expense of our customers, or even an all-out business vigilante seeking to annihilate our competition?
Leadership is that ethereal substance that quickens the heart of every growing business. We consciously determine the nature of our leadership capacity introspectively (by being accountable to ourselves and to others, by exhibiting relentless perseverance in the face of adversity, and by embarking on a lifelong love affair with learning). However, the breadth and extent of our leadership capacity is determined largely by external factors, including how well we can challenge the status quo to create a lasting legacy, whether we seek out and employ diversity of thought for innovative solutions, and how carefully we plan and monitor the company’s progress, all while empowering others to help us build our dream.
Sir Richard Branson built an empire of transforming industries. He discovers where frustrated customers have just plain had enough, and finds a way to do it better. Sir Richard realizes that he’s not in the airline business–that’s the status quo. His company, Virgin Airlines, is really in the entertainment business. It provides a highly personalized, entertaining travel experience. Eat when and what you like from a menu of tasty fare. Enjoy an impressive assortment of entertainment choices, and customer service is a dream–and the transformation doesn’t stop there. By challenging the status quo, the Virgin brand has become the gold standard across a dizzying array of industries, from music to health-club chains, retail car sales, and so on.
In addition to taking insightful and bold actions, Leaderpreneurs understand the importance of diversity of thought. I encourage you to assemble a mastermind team of people who are strong in skill areas where you are weak. Find leaders in your industry that have done what you want to do. You’ll be surprised at how open and available a lot of professionals are to having lunch with you once a quarter to give you guidance (you’re buying, in case you were wondering).
Many of them want to give back to others in order to return the good energy they’ve received in their careers, but, often, no one asks for help, fearing rejection. Go for it. Leaderpreneurs act in the face of fear.
Set SMART goals for 2013 (goals that are specific, measurable, aggressive, but attainable, realistic and time-oriented). Delegate performance obligations for each goal to the right person (either inside or outside of your organization) and monitor their progress by focusing on the big picture as you guide everyone toward your common goal.
A leaderpreneur looks at business and marketing planning, as well as careful monitoring of performance and growth factors, as critical elements to the company’s success.
Finally, never fear hiring someone that is smarter than you. Empower them and get out of their way.
You’ll be amazed at how well it will impact your bottom line.
Shaune B. Arnold is a practicing attorney, business strategist and coach. Contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.