Leadership skills are going to be essential, no matter what you’re attempting as an entrepreneur.
It’s an obvious and necessary skill for entrepreneurs hoping to grow business empires. Whenever staff enter the equation, the entrepreneur with qualities of a true leader is the winner.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that your solopreneur-style internet business is immune either. When you’re building a following of devoted fans (and customers) you become their leader!
So what is leadership and is it possible to learn? Let’s break it down…
What is leadership?
All good leaders must have competency in their field – the knowledge to get the job done and, typically, the experience to say “been there, done that” with integrity.
However, these are not the defining criteria of leadership. What separates a leader (from say, a manager) are the following traits:
1. The ability to create and maintain a cohesive team (or tribe)
This means knowing how to get talented people to work together (harder than it looks).
2. Drive the team to output more than their individual capabilities combined
Teamwork is only worthwhile when the collaborative total output exceeds the results the individuals might produce on their own time. Otherwise, why bother? Leaders know how to make 4+4 equal 9.
Do you have the right genes?
The “nature”, geneticist argument says our potential to be great lies in our genetic make-up.
Cognitive psychology, on the other hand, suggests it is the “imprinting” and “modelling” periods of our early youth that determine our innate leadership skills (or lack of them).
Either way, we don’t have control over our genes OR the environment we’re born into (and subsequently learn from)…. so we’re screwed right?
I believe that leadership, like every other skill, can be deliberately and consciously mastered… if we approach our education in the right way.
Leadership is not something that can be taught at a university, sitting in a classroom. I don’t even believe books have that much to offer… (I’m aware of the irony as I write this article)
The best leadership books are those that encourage the reader to go out and do. It’s real-world activity (not pointless over thinking) that creates leaders.
Nevertheless, we’ve got to get educated somehow. We need a way to learn the specific strategies and techniques great leaders use!
For me, this has to be modeling. The process? It’s simple: Acute observation of specifically selected role models.
What better way to learn than by studying those who are great?
The problem is, these folks are generally too busy leading their people to sit down and write a book – much less teach a MBA class!
Learning from real-world examples is the only secret sauce here. I believe there are a handful of great leadership books – my favorites are Business Stripped Bare by Richard Branson and Tribes (because it’s a call to action) by Seth Godin.
Things I’d like to know from you:
- Who are the leaders in your life whom you could model?
- How could you approach them?
- What great leadership books can you recommend me?
I appreciate your help on one (or all) of these!
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