3 Leadership Lessons for Entrepreneurs Who Crave to Make an Impact
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Many people become entrepreneurs because they want to be their own boss. They don’t want to answer to anyone. These are the same folks who imagine that entrepreneurial leaders are like mavericks on the open road, making the rules up as they go along, not conforming to anyone’s ideas.
This line of thinking is not only unreasonable, it is actually the root of poor leadership.
Veteran entrepreneurs will tell you that founding a startup isn’t just about breaking the rules and taking risks for the thrill of it. “Entrepreneurs are indeed required to take risks,” says Kevin Eunsu Lee, Founder of CarVi. “But the most important part is not just about taking risks, it’s being responsible and accountable for the results.”
After working in the automobile electronics industry as an engineer for 20 years, Lee founded CarVi to bring image conversion and transformational safety technologies into all cars, not just the expensive ones. And he certainly had the passion needed to build his startup. After three of his close friends died in an automobile accident, he made it his mission to make the roads safer for everyone to drive on.
Having come from a corporate job, Lee soon learned the unique virtues it takes to be an entrepreneur -- particularly against the backdrop of an innovative and highly-regulated industry. And the first one is, you guessed it, the need for accountability.
1. As a leader, you are accountable to everyone.
Entrepreneurs are the leaders of their organizations. They cannot hide behind the decisions of anyone else because they ultimately hold the power to make the final call. "If things do not work out, you cannot just blame it on someone else. Even if it's something that one of your team members did wrong, it's still your responsibility," says Lee. “Accountability and responsibility are not just limited to your business, but also to your team members and customers."
If you are the type of person who hates being critiqued and taking the blame for others, then you will be miserable as an entrepreneur. "If someone asks for your suggestions or needs your advice, you have to have an answer to it. And when you provide an answer, you need to be willing to be responsible for the outcome,” says Lee. It doesn't take long for you to realize that leading your own business is not all fun and games like you thought it would be. You are actually responsible for the satisfaction of your customers and the performance of your team to position your business to succeed.
2. Leaders must trust their creativity enough to truly stand by it.
The decisions that you make will affect your business long-term. “In a corporate environment, there are always fallbacks, and sometimes if you have a good idea, it might not be accepted; thus you won't be able to see if your idea was actually a good one or not. Being an entrepreneur is different,” says Lee.
When you have an idea and decide to implement it into your business, you must give it 100 percent of your effort. Wavering in your decision-making communicates to your team that you have no belief in your idea. This makes your team question if they should trust the decisions that you make. You negate this from happening by standing firm on your decisions, whether they later prove to be right or wrong. If they are wrong, admit your faults, and move forward with complete confidence in yourself. No one is always right, and entrepreneurship is all about making tough decisions even when you are unsure of the outcome.
3. Building the right team helps the leader reach his/her full potential.
An entrepreneur never succeeds own their own. They must connect with the right resources and people to grow their idea into an operational business.
“Building a team is really important," says Lee. "No company can be built by just one person. You need a team that understands the mission of the company and the goals that the company is aiming to achieve."
When team members are added to the mix, they must understand your vision for the company if they are going to be a successful addition to your organization. Many businesses have failed because of the poor performance of the people within the organization. Often times this boils down to the fact that they were not set up for success.
"If team members are not clear about the mission, very soon you will realize that they are treating the work as just a job, and thus it will affect the growth of a company, especially a startup,” says Lee. Internal issues soon become external as they spread to the customers. Therefore, you must only bring on people to your team who are committed to excellence and successful results.
So before you go quitting your day job, remember that being a leader isn’t being about a lone wolf who makes passionate decisions in the heat of the moment. It’s about being a true team player. And while that may not sound as glamorous as what the entrepreneurial media tells you, it is infinitely more rewarding.