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3 Classic Books That Teach You How to Be a Great Entrepreneur and Leader

Invest in both "self-leadership" and "servant-leadership" to get the best out of your team.

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Influencing your team's work ethics, fostering engagement and building trust may call for leadership behaviors that differ from what an entrepreneur naturally exhibits. It is best to realize this as early as possible, seek to learn the best management theories and practice applying them early on.

Related: Should You Start a New Business This Year?

The leader-follower relationship

In his 2004 book, Winning with People, author John Maxwell describes the importance of a leader's need to change self-first, rather than succumb to the default pattern of suggesting other people are at fault. Maxwell calls this "The Mirror Principle" and suggests the reader solicit feedback from friends, family or colleagues about habits that hold the person back. For the entrepreneur in a leadership role, the questions help guide the individual towards deeper self-reflection.

In addition to developing an understanding of oneself, having a clear understanding of outcomes is essential. Stephen Covey addresses this in his 1989 book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, when he writes that it is natural for people to want to be understood before giving way to understanding others. It is important to recognize that the employees being led may also feel this way. Understanding this principle offers the entrepreneur the opportunity to engage in the behavior of emphatic listening.

In 2018's Dare to Lead, Brene Brown offers five steps to help leaders flex this muscle:

  1. Try to experience how it looks from the person's view
  2. Withhold judgment
  3. Try to understand the person's feelings
  4. Explain your understanding of their feelings
  5. Maintain self-awareness.

Related: Why Working Managers Don't Work

The servant-leader relationship

Servant leadership means serving others, caring for their needs and investing in their development. This approach engenders trust between employees and their bosses and leads to greater levels of job satisfaction. For the entrepreneur focused on building a business, it makes much sense to invest in a leadership style that contributes to positive business returns and plays a role in influencing the lives of their followers.

Credible instruments such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, DiSC, Gallup Strengthsfinder or the Leadership Practices Inventory can help the entrepreneur gather information that helps explain strengths, weaknesses and preferences. Another valuable tool is the 360 Leadership Assessment, which allows colleagues to respond to a series of questions, anonymously or not, designed to help the subject understand how they are perceived by others.

Whether you're a first-time or serial entrepreneur, there is value in continuously developing leadership skills so as to achieve your goals and minimize pitfalls.

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