This article comes from Entrepreneur.
What can entrepreneurs do to become better leaders themselves? It’s a question I often ask myself as an enterprise marketing leader who heads teams of 30 or more and manages multimillion-dollar budgets. Here’s what I’ve learned in just a few years on the job:
“A leader is best when people barely know he exists when his work is done, his aim fulfilled. They will say: We did it ourselves.” – Lao Tzu
In a 2019 study by BambooHR, more than 1,000 U.S.-based employees were asked to rate 24 potentially “bad” boss behaviors, on a scale from “totally acceptable” to “totally unacceptable.”’ The results were predictable:
Unfortunately, none of this is surprising. Many workplaces have toxic cultures that do not foster trust or collaboration but run instead on a kind of Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest model.
“People ask the difference between a leader and a boss. The leader leads, and the boss drives.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Why do so many bad managers take credit for other people’s hard work? Because one of the most common traits of bad managers is that they have me-first mentalities. Leadership for them is little more than a means to an end — more prestige and a higher salary.
Some might argue that those rewards are fine motivations for leadership. But most of us would disagree. We know from our personal experiences with great parents, teachers, coaches and mentors that great leaders lead because they care about improving the lives of those around them.
Here’s another statistic for you:
As a leader, never forget that you are a mentor to your teammates. And, just as with good parenting, good mentoring requires building people up, not breaking them down out of frustration.
“Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.” – Steve Jobs
Bad managers love to point out that great leaders like Jobs aren’t always nice to their teammates. Fair point … except that Jobs was always the MVP at his companies, which more than made up for his mean disposition.
Jobs was also always willing to put in the work and commit to his daring and innovative vision. This made him an effective and inspiring leader despite his often mean and manipulative behavior toward his employees.
Yes, even great leaders are flawed. But what separates billion-dollar founders from the rest is their singular ability to be daring. They are able and willing to commit to a specific course of action, even when times are tough and few people agree with them.
Wonder what character traits an innovative leader has? The Harvard Business Review interviewed 33 leaders in the top 99th percentile for innovation, as measured by their peers, employees, and bosses. HBR’s study found that innovative leaders share the same 10 traits.
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