‘Earn your leadership everyday’ – Michael Jordan
Success for the entrepreneur requires providing leadership to their organisation. Unfortunately, most entrepreneurs whilst good in their technical areas and commerce are unable to provide the inspirational leadership required to survive and excel over varying challenges the organisation will definitely face in pursuit of its strategic objectives.
Management and Leadership: Though they are quite inter-related and complementary, there are academic differences between ‘management’ and ‘leadership’. Management refers to the activities generally associated with running an organisational bureaucracy. The efficient sourcing, deployment and utilisation of resources will all generally be under the purview of ‘management’. On the other hand, setting the grand vision and inspiring employees to buy into it is generally considered a leadership characteristic. As mentioned, the two functions are interrelated and indeed complimentary. A manager with leadership qualities will therefore do much better than without. Similarly, a leader with management skills will do much better than one without.
“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Peter F. Drucker
Benefits: An inspiring leadership provides certain benefits that are necessary in keeping the organisation true to, and tirelessly in pursuit of its objectives. Some of these benefits include:
- Creating a compelling vision and getting stakeholders to buy into it will make achieving the day-to-day goals much easier. And once you are achieving the day-to-day goals, your chances of achieving the long-term objectives are significantly enhanced,
- Entrenching a long-term approach to developing and nurturing relationships in the thinking and action of everyone in the organisation,
- It is the most effective way of engendering an enduring corporate culture,
- It creates enthusiasm in times of ease and abiding faith, confidence and resolve in times of difficulties,
- It encourages and helps employees in making day-to-day decisions based on agreed principles, values etc.
At the end of the day, an inspiring leadership enhances the long-term performance of organisations. Without effective leadership, organisations tend to be focussed on short-term benefits that might hurt their long-term chances of survival.
So how does the entrepreneur ensure that they develop their leadership skills?
Create a compelling vision: “Vision is the ability to see beyond our present reality, to create, to invent what does not yet exist, to become what we not yet are. It gives us capacity to live out of our imagination instead of our memory.” – Stephen R. Covey.
A compelling vision is a very clear, almost physical, picture of what we are determined to achieve. The most successful people in various fields never doubted their vision. They have an abiding faith in it and never relent in their determination nor doubt their capacity to achieve it.
The people that will work with you will first asses you on the vision you set out to achieve. A compelling vision addresses what the current mission should be as well what the future should hold. It is very easy for human beings to tire as a result of routines that are not backed up by a vision of what the future should be. The more compelling the vision, the more exciting it will be to the kind of people you want to attract. When the late Steve Jobs of Apple wanted to lure then Pepsi executive John Sculley, he asked the later “Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?” Sculley joined Apple.
Integrity: The Business Dictionary defines integrity as the “Strict adherence to a moral code, reflected in transparent honesty and complete harmony in what one thinks, says, and does”. Complete congruency in your thought, sayings and actions is an absolute necessity in inspiring leadership.
From religious to military, political and business organisations, results and lasting legacies are built on the integrity of leaders. You have to inculcate in yourself the necessity to act based on understood and agreed values as well as moral principles that can’t be questioned. This is only possible if you are true to yourself, and to your staff, customers and other stakeholders. Integrity is a necessary condition to lasting success.
Carry your stakeholders along: Like in other journeys of life, the entrepreneurial road is long and winding. To make it a little easier on you and all others, it is important that you carry your people along in what you do. When people understand what is being done, it becomes easier for them to support. Yes, there are exceptional situations though, when you have to be ahead of the crowd. For instance, when the late Nelson Mandela started negotiating with the apartheid leadership in South Africa, he didn’t carry the ANC along. As he explained later, sometimes it is necessary to ‘step ahead’ of the crowd, who may at that moment never be able to understand the basis of what you are trying to do. In such situations however, it is the trust that your people have in you as a result of the moral capital that you have in them that will keep their loyalty to you even when they are unable to understand exactly what you are doing. At the end, in the case of Mr. Mandela, his judgement that it was time to negotiate proved right. That increased the loyalty and trust of his people in him. The leader also needs to have a sincere purpose and strong conviction to be able to pull through such exceptions.
Carrying your stakeholders along also means that you must be able to delegate as well as build solids teams that can face the challenges that face you and surmount them.
To be continued . . .