When I think about the great entrepreneurs of our time like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Richard Branson, I not only admire the companies they built, but their leadership skills. Since even the best idea, or the smartest individual, can't evolve into a massively successful company without leadership.
Below I will explain the difference between leadership and management, and steps you should take to improve your leadership skills.
Leadership vs. Management
Leadership is future-oriented, and determines what the company's desired future should be and what strategy to take to get it all done.
On the other hand, management focuses on getting things done in the present through the wise use of systems, people, and resources.
Leadership skills tend to be more intuitive, "big picture," and holistic. Managerial thinking tends to be more analytical, detailed, and logical. Both can be creative, but management thinking is definitely more process-oriented.
So how can someone become a better leader?
There are several areas of leadership for which each of us has some degree of skill. Take an analysis of yourself and where you stand on each of them below.
While this can be a real eye-opener, doing this can let you know where improvement is most needed. It might just be the thing that is holding you back without you knowing it!
Seeing the Future
As I mentioned before, leaders have the ability to see the big picture and devise an effective path to make that vision come true.
As a leader, you have the vantage point of looking at your entire business or any of its parts - sales, marketing, accounting, management, etc. You can look for opportunities or accept the need for change and create a vision in your mind of what could be.
The clearer you are about what you want and what specific results are required, the easier it is to map an appropriate strategy that will get you there.
Leaders create the core values and philosophy of the business, grounded in their own values and passion. It's up to you to be consistent with regards to your company's values, so that it becomes "the way we do it" in your business.
For example, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh attributes much of his company's success to the 10 core values he helped establish:
1. Deliver WOW Through Service
2. Embrace and Drive Change
3. Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
5. Pursue Growth and Learning
6. Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
8. Do More With Less
9. Be Passionate and Determined
10. Be Humble
Leaders are committed. You must be willing to make sacrifices to achieve success. And you must be persistent and passionate to see things through to completion even with setbacks along the way. No one is going to be more committed to the success of your business than you, and your commitment will inspire those who work for you.
And lastly, leaders are influencers. As you frequently and powerfully communicate what your vision and strategy are, others will catch your spirit as well and see what you see.
It can often be difficult to help other people to "get it," so as a leader you have to tailor your message to get through to them.
The funny thing about leadership is that it's the thing that most of us need to work on but we are perhaps the least aware of. After all, you don't know what you don't know. Where do you stand?
To help you, here are 3 simple steps to boost your leadership skills:
Step One: Take an inventory of yourself and your skills in each of the areas in bold above. Specifically, ask the following questions:
- Seeing the Future: Do you have a clear vision of your company's future? Do your employees know this vision?
- Values: What are the values you live by and that your company needs to follow. Do your employees know these values?
- Commitment: How committed are you to the success of your business? What would you forego in order to achieve that success (would you risk everything? give up watching TV? etc.)? Do you always follow through on company projects to completion?
- Influence: How much have you been able to influence employees and others? Have the 100% bought into your vision? Do they come to work with "fire in their bellies"?
Not only should you answer these questions yourself, but ask someone you trust (including key employees) to give you their thoughts as well so you get a second point of view.
Step Two: Determine where you are lacking and see how it has impacted your business. Specifically, are you happy with your answers to the above questions? If not, what might be the result if you don't change? What could be the result if you do change? Commit yourself to focusing on the area(s) in which you need improvement.
Step Three: Map out a plan for how you can improve in that area. Choose activities that will help you to practice that skill, and schedule them.
For example, if you feel like your vision for your business still isn't clear enough and needs some work, you might hold periodic vision meetings, attend conferences where you can scan for upcoming opportunities, or use some creative imagination techniques to explore possibilities in your mind.
Commit now to making your leadership skills an area of focus this year. With steady attention and effort, you'll find that you get results and realize your dreams more easily and quickly, and with a lot less confusion and spinning your wheels.
Suggested Resource: To become the ultimate leader, you need to do a lot of things, like hire the right people, create the right culture, establish accountability structures, etc.
If you haven't led a highly successful company before, there are a lot of mistakes you will make. However, I've put together a program that allows you to skip the mistakes and get it right the first time.
In my program, I'll teach you everything you need to do to find, recruit and train the right people, and build an amazing organization that allows you to thrive. Click here to access it now.