The Small Business Administration, Office of Advocacy tells us that there are an estimated 12.6 million “nascent entrepreneurs” in the United States alone. It seems that being an entrepreneur has become not only the new American dream, but a global one too.
I certainly see that trend with the kinds of career transitions my clients are aspiring to make. Organizations, too, are demanding not just self-accountability from their people, but an entrepreneurial mindset.
It would seem safe to assert then, that leadership and entrepreneurship go hand in hand.
In order to be a successful entrepreneur, you need to be a successful leader.
A leader, by definition is someone who won’t be content with the status quo. They’re interested in changing what’s being done and why it’s being done. They know who they are, what they stand for, and have given a lot of thought to what should be happening instead of what’s currently going on.
Successful leaders stand behind the well-articulated compelling visions they craft. They have a talent for keeping their fingers on the pulse of larger questions and knowing how things should evolve so everyone stays ahead of the curve.
It goes without saying too, that they absolutely excel at persuading people to follow them.
When my clients get stuck on vision, it usually happens in two ways :
They may have a version of writer’s block in front of that blank page and wonder where or how to begin. It doesn’t come naturally, wasn’t taught in school and they wish they had a process to follow.
Or else, a leader may be great at crafting visions, but can’t break it down for someone else on their team who needs to do the same, is struggling, flailing, and either not getting promoted or dragging the whole team down.
Hermina Ibarra, author of Think like a Leader, Act Like a Leader breaks it down for us with a list of capabilities that I share with all of my clients. Use it as a vision setting “How To” starting point. Read through the list and ask yourself which of these capabilities you do naturally. That’s where your vision setting starts.
Whether you’re a start up founder looking to solve a relevant problem, a business owner looking to scale, a manager at any level in an organization looking to create the deep work that will make an impact, it all starts with breaking the ice and getting at that vision.
Leading with your strengths is a great way to not only succeed but feel more fulfilled in your professional life. Start with a piece of paper and simply list out the areas where you feel you excel the most. If you need a mental jog, try reading StrengthsFinder 2.0, it’s excellent. There is, of course, the famous Myer-Briggs personality test, which can provide some insight as well. The bottom line is to figure out what you’re good at and how that correlates with your values. Having this information in your back pocket will prove a useful navigational tool.
Vision in Action
1. Sensing opportunities and threats in the environment.
2. Simplifying complex situations.
3. Seeing patterns in seemingly unconnected phenomena.
4. Foreseeing events that may affect the organization’s bottom line.
5. Setting strategic direction knowing what to do, why you’re doing it.
6. Encouraging new business.
7. Making decisions with an eye towards the big picture.
8. Inspiring others to look beyond the current practice.
9. Asking questions that challenge the status quo.
10. Being open to new ways of doing things.
11. Bringing in an external perspective.