Founder to Leader: How did I end up here!

One of the best potential side benefits of being a founder and running a company is not having the title of CEO, but the role of being a leader. It does not happen automatically and “just because”. Keep in mind, it may be much more difficult than actually running the company. It may take coaching and support from others. The work, attention, and care will be well worth it because by leading, you will be on your way to an amazing culture, passionate team, and successful company. Even better, you will be an amazing example for many others.  

Take some time and reflect on public and not so public leaders you admire and who’s leadership has withstood the test of time. What are the traits and actions that define that person? I bet those traits will include vision, insight, passion, and confidence.  

Go ahead, write them down and test them out. In the end, you need to embrace the qualities and actions that work best for you. If you are not genuine and authentic, you cannot be a true leader. People will see you are disingenuous and will not trust you or respect you. Without trust and respect, you can never be an effective leader.

As a leader, it is your job to lead and the way in which you lead will either result in a great leader or a not so great leader. Being a leader is more than just directing others. More so, it is about how you treat others. Everyone has heard the saying, “treat others the way you would want to be treated”. Though cliché, this phrase is valid and should be followed while establishing a sound foundation for leadership.

Keep in mind, you do not lead by telling people what to do or ordering them to follow you. You lead by example and by making others feel valued. Feeling appreciated and important will motivate employees to work and do their best. If someone is motivated by you, they will want to do more, and doing more benefits them, you, and the company.

It is also important to make everyone feel part of the team and to assure them that what they say and do is relevant. Their ideas and input matters to you and to the success of the company. When a team member feels like they matter, they will be more engaged and more thoughtful. As a result, those following you will do more and do a better job. Give everyone the opportunity to control their own destiny through responsibility with authority. No matter how you look at it, being held responsible and not shirking from one’s duties, is empowering.  

Regardless of how many people you engage and lead, do not forget that as the leader and founder, the buck stops with you. Every decision, every result. Even if you have investors, a board of directors or board of advisors, in the end you must accept the results of your decisions and actions. Better yet, embrace them. Having an engaged and supportive team will allow you to make more informed and smarter decisions.  Take comfort in the fact that your decisions have not been made in a vacuum. No matter what you decide, you will have support for your decisions because you have involved your team as part of the process.

Leading never ends and while there are born leaders, everyone can learn to be a leader. Becoming a leader will be a lifelong journey that will transcend your company and, in the end, make you a better person while enriching those around you. With proper leadership, your impact can be endless and lifelong. How cool is that! 

October 15, 2019

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