Last week I stumbled through another liminal dimension in my current work with the 3to5 Club of business owners who are clarifying the key strategies for their businesses. At least one of those strategies should cover “leadership.” Someone asked, “If I’m a solopreneur, why would I need a leadership strategy? I don’t have anyone to lead!”
That question made me ask: was she right? Is leadership irrelevant to a one-woman business? I decided that even with a single business owner, there are more people involved than first meets the eye.
Even as a solopreneur, leadership matters. You have three main stakeholders:
* your boss self
* your employee self
* your business entity (both legally and otherwise).
Leadership matters for at least three reasons:
- When you pass the “no-profit” stage, you are your first employee. You have a chance to lay the right foundations for your company, whether for one, 10, 100 or 1000 employees.
Ask yourself the following:
- Do I provide for the basic “hygiene” needs of this employee: good pay, benefits, working conditions? Would s/he recommend my company as a desirable workplace?
- Do I have a Dilbert-like self-talk mantra that goes like this: “The beatings will continue until morale improves”?
2. As you move from survival to success, you perform more boss-like functions and begin to develop an embryonic business owner (boss) identity. Three lessons that I learned working for large corporations continue to apply well here:
a. Make the Boss Look Good
b. Bring a Solution with the “Problem”
c. Liberate her Strengths
- What are you currently doing to make “your boss” look good?
- Do you find yourself just whining or making excuses or playing “ostrich”? Or are you actively solving your problem?
- Do you let yourself be bogged down with busywork? What are you doing to amplify your boss’ strengths?
Corporations are “persons.” Why not name your company? One exit planning expert I know calls his client’s business “Henry” and regularly asks the owners, ”What are you doing to take care of Henry? If you take all the profit out of Henry and bankrupt him at the end of every year, how do you think he’s doing?”
For centuries, Jews set an empty cup for Elijah at the Passover table. This custom is in honor of the belief that Elijah will announce the Messiah’s coming. If you intend to create a business apart from yourself—whether it is a LLC, a C or an S corporation—what are you doing to nurture its “personhood?”
Where to start? Barbara Fredericksen recounts meeting the Dalai Lama, breaking social convention with her star-struck gawking. She says that without a word, he motioned to her in a way that pulled her out of that trance—she felt corrected without an iota of judgment: the essence of full acceptance.(Love 2.0, p. 133.)
If you can do just one thing to lay a strategy for leadership, I would argue that you can do worse than to follow the tenets of the great religious traditions:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, strength and might.” Deuteronomy 6:5
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27
The LKM (Loving Kindness Meditation):
May I feel safe
May I feel happy.
May I feel healthy.
May I live at ease.
The key insight I had this week is that we all lead ourselves first and foremost. How we lead ourselves is far more telling than what we put on paper!
Here are a few questions to consider:
- Would I want to work for me?
- Am I too harsh and demanding? Too easy and indulgent? Just right?
- Do I provide clarity of vision, direction? Or am I inconsistent?
- Do I like the work environment and schedule I provide for me?
Share your ideas of how to improve your leadership!