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Influencing your team’s work ethic, fostering engagement, and building trust may require leadership behaviors that differ from what an entrepreneur naturally exhibits. It’s best to realize this as early as possible, seek to learn the best management theories, and practice applying them early on.
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The leader-follower relationship
In his 2004 book, win with people, author John Maxwell describes the importance of a leader’s need to change themselves first, rather than succumbing to the default pattern of suggesting that other people are at fault. Maxwell calls this “The Mirror Principle” and suggests the reader seek input from friends, family, or co-workers on the habits that are holding the person back. For the entrepreneur in a leadership role, the questions help guide the individual towards deeper personal reflection.
In addition to developing self-understanding, it is essential to have a clear understanding of the results. Stephen Covey talks about it in his 1989 book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, when he writes that it is natural for people to want to be understood before giving in to the understanding of others. It’s important to recognize that directed employees can also feel this. Understanding this principle offers the entrepreneur the opportunity to engage in emphatic listening behavior.
In 2018 dare to leadBrene Brown offers five steps to help leaders build this muscle:
- Try to see what it looks like from the person’s point of view
- withhold judgment
- Try to understand the person’s feelings
- Explain your understanding of their feelings
- Maintain self-awareness.
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The Servant-Leader Relationship
Servant leadership means serving others, caring for their needs, and investing in their development. This approach engenders trust between employees and their bosses and leads to higher levels of job satisfaction. For the entrepreneur focused on building a business, it makes perfect sense to invest in a leadership style that contributes to positive business returns and plays a role in influencing the lives of its followers.
Credible instruments such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, DiSC, Gallup Strengthsfinder or the Leadership Practices Inventory can help the entrepreneur gather information to explain their strengths, weaknesses and preferences. Another valuable tool is the 360 Leadership Assessment, which allows colleagues to answer a series of questions, anonymous or not, designed to help the subject understand how they are perceived by others.
Whether you are a first-time or serial entrepreneur, it is important to continuously develop leadership skills in order to achieve your goals and minimize pitfalls.
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