I have recently begun hanging around some entrepreneurs in an effort to learn from these folks about how to build something tangible from just a dream and and some drive. These guys (and one gal) are inspiring to me. My hope is that they will help me grow Leadership Voices beyond my own personal abilities.
There are many management philosophies out there and they have many followers that would state that stability in and of itself is actually non-entrepreneurial. Here are some common expressions that may be familiar to you:
- Always question what you have.
- Don’t follow the rules.
- If you don’t take the risk, you will never succeed.
Although I agree with the spirit of all these statements in general, I disagree with the typical or traditional interpretation of their intent. All these actually imply one very important and often overlooked pice of advice. The underlying theme of all these maxims should be that your goal is be to be performing continuous improvements to the process. But, unfortunately, the above statements are usually taken too literally and that is a danger for budding entrepreneurs and leaders.
Let’s consider the impact of those statements on my topic for the day. – Stability.
In the spirit of continuous improvement, it is often argued that stability makes you “too comfortable”, which, ostensibly in turn makes you “fall in love” with the process. The result of that love affair is that you are not encouraged to think about enhancements. Nothing can be more dangerous for the entrepreneurial spirit that is within a leader. Many leaders think that they have to disrupt stability, and assume significant risks in order to be successful. And sometimes, they push for change just so they can leave their personal mark and imprint on the organization. Will they fail? I don’t know. But the chances are pretty high that they will indeed fail.
So, am I suggesting that we stay in our little comfort zone and never venture out or seek to improve the status quo? Hardly not! Especially when the status quo is not working or is showing a pattern of declining performance. That is not what a leader does. A leader leads. A leader helps us become better as a person and as an organization.
Here are the traits that I am counting on to become a successful entrepreneur, business owner, executive or leader.
I am making a detailed plan. In that plan I am capturing all the facts, assumptions and possible outcomes and their relative probabilities of occurring.
I am identifying the risks and how I plan to mitigate them. I am developing a Plan B, or even Plan C for all known outcomes. I am defining “circuit breakers” of risk, in other words, at what point I will decide to pull the plug, acknowledge failure and prevent further bleeding.
I will constantly evaluate my assumptions against reality. If an assumption turns out to be different from reality, I will adjust my plan to reflect that. A plan is not cast in stone.
I realize that a goal is just a series of smaller goals. It is not some all-or-nothing jewel. I will achieve success incrementally.
I will not lose my focus on the successful sub-goals. I will fiercely protect my “conquered lands.” I will make sure what I accomplish so far is stable before committing resources to new or additional endeavors.
These traits separate successful leaders and entrepreneurs from the not-so-successful ones. If you are budding leader, it will help you immensely to pay attention to the above. If you are not striving to be a leader or an entrepreneur, pay attention to them anyway whenever you are associating with someone who does have those aspirations, desires, or talents. They will either help you become one or they will help you understand one.
And, by the way, please forgive the graphic image that sits atop this article. It was the best I could find in the short time I had to locate a leading graphic.