The One Skill Most People Lack
The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question “What leadership style should every entrepreneur try to adopt?” is written by William Vanderbloemen, founder and CEO of Vanderbloemen Search Group.
As an entrepreneur, one of the trickiest things to figure out is the type of leadership style that will ultimately be best for your company. There are hundreds of books written by successful businesspeople, and every single one of them tells you that their way is the best way. It can be incredibly difficult to discern the type of leadership that’s right for you and your company.
The good news is this: It’s not about finding the perfect needle in the haystack of leadership styles. It’s about leading authentically from your strengths and vision and making sure everyone on your team is on the same page.
I work with a lot of leaders and heads of companies and organizations. There is a vast array of leadership styles out there, and there isn’t one style that works best for everybody. It’s the same with vision plans and mission statements. The right vision and mission depends on what your company is striving toward and the type of culture you’re trying to create. It’s not an exact science. The important thing is that everyone in the company knows the plan and is bought into the vision, working toward the same end goal.
The same is true of leadership. If you lead authentically, people will follow. And what all leaders need to realize is this: Authenticity can only happen if a leader is self-aware.
Take an honest look at yourself and what you want for your company. For example, we had to decide early on in our company if we wanted to be a boutique firm or strive for something bigger. There’s nothing wrong with either one, but we had to decide on the direction we wanted to go. Making that decision shaped the hires we made and helped determine the type of leadership we needed. But it started with self-awareness—me figuring out what the company was about and where it was heading.
As I’ve interviewed thousands of candidates, I’ve come to discover that most people have a serious lack of self-awareness. People don’t like looking at themselves in the mirror and being honest.
When I was a pastor, I remember a church member coming up to me asking for career advice. He wanted to know whether or not he should take a job as a CEO. I asked why he was concerned, and he said, “Because the first day you’re the CEO is the last day you’ll hear the truth.” And to an extent, he’s right. As a leader, it’s on you to always be self-aware and to figure out the status of your company culture. Your team will likely not tell you what’s what unless you have a remarkably healthy team. It boils down to your own willingness to honestly self-evaluate. As a leader, you have to have the self-awareness to get the right idea of where your business is and where it needs to go.
Be honest. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. There’s no exact science to what type of leadership style you should use, but if your team knows you’re authentic and knows where they’re going, they will follow.