I recently read a great article in Forbes (Humility: The Secret to Confident Leadership) and wanted to share its key points with all business owners in Oregon and Washington state.
The topic for the article was inspired by a recent study by Professor Bradley Owens that concluded narcissists or individuals with a “grandiose yet fragile sense of self and preoccupation with success and demands for admiration” can be great leaders when they practice humility.
This is done by incorporating practices that counterbalance the negative aspects of their narcissism. He also pointed out the many positive features of narcissism (vision, confidence and perseverance through challenges) which are great leadership characteristics in most successful entrepreneurs.
In fact, these are instrumental in getting a business off the ground but once the business is established, a different set of characteristics are needed to stabilize a business and encourage growth. This is important whether your business is a small 1-man shop in Portland or a bigger company in Vancouver WA-the same set of tips apply to both.
Practices for moving your business forward
Encourage new ideas
It was your vision or idea that was responsible for creating your company but now you need to listen to the team you have hired to run your company. From the beginning, you need to establish an open environment that encourages people to speak up with their ideas.
Shut up and listen
This builds on the prior idea about inviting new ideas. Keep your ears open and your mouth shut and invite conversations with your team. People like to know their opinion is valued and by listening to what others have to say, you’ll build a strong connection while gaining the respect of your team.
Surround yourself with a strong team
Entrepreneurs have what it takes to get a company running but that doesn’t mean they are good at the day-to-day operations. This is precisely why it’s crucial that you recognize your weaknesses and hire people who ARE good at the ‘nuts and bolts’-type of activities necessary in running a business.
Making mistakes is o.k.
No one likes making mistakes but don’t be so afraid of making mistakes that you never make any decisions. The only way to move forward is to make decisions and if you do make a mistake, learn from it. It’s often through one’s mistakes that you learn your greatest lessons, which enable you to make corrections and move you closer to your goal-whatever that may be.
Don’t be afraid to delegate
It’s often hard to “let go” and let others make decisions about your baby (company) but you have hand-picked a team to run your company so let them do the job you hired them to do. This will free you up to do what you do best-start another venture, work on big-picture ideas, etc.
Give credit where credit is due
I love this quote from Carnegie regarding the worst quality in a leader is “taking credit when things go well and dishing out blame when things go wrong.” Everyone LOVES to accept responsibility for things going right BUT it goes both ways so you need to accept the fallout when things go wrong.
Practicing humility is about recognizing your strengths and weaknesses and being willing to integrate guidelines to counteract your weaknesses. The tips outlined above are excellent examples of practices you can put into place to move your start-up company into the next phase-growing it into a stable, productive business.