This morning I had a conversation with someone through work who was under a great deal of pressure to deliver outcomes. He was struggling and it was obvious that the weight of his situation was starting to get to him.
As someone with a bit more management experience, it was interesting to sit and listen to him talk about where he thought everything was at with his project. The more worrying trend for me was how he externalised everything and found creative ways to assign blame and failure on everyone else working with him.
I stopped him after about ten minutes.
“Mate, you’re leading. Everything that happens is your fault. Just accept that you are responsible for getting the outcome. Everyone else can screw up, but at the end of the day, you’re the guy who owns the overall responsibility.”
His first reaction was to object and then he kind of became a bit sullen when I wouldn’t commiserate with him about the people’s being forced to work with. I think he expected me to have a pity party with him about his colleagues.
In fact, I went in the opposite direction – I pointed out how a number of the people in his team were really good at their jobs. It’s true, I’ve personally dealt with everyone he’s working with across a variety of assignments and the calibre of their work is almost always of a high standard.
I went even deeper and showed him individual examples of how members of his team had delivered big results, well above expectations.
“If it’s not them, then what you’re obviously saying is that it’s me. I’m not good enough.”
It was like talking to a petulant child who was trying to turn advice into criticism and an attack against them so that they don’t have to confront the truth of their situation.
“You’re not leading. You’re not displaying leadership qualities. You’re acting like a party organizer that doesn’t know where the caterer is, just found out the DJ is double booked and the venue doesn’t have air conditioning. This is not a bar mitzvah, this is a significant project for a large customer – you’re the Project Leader, you need to lead.”
In your business, you’re the leader. Even if you’re a solopreneur working out of your spare bedroom when you get a spare five minutes, you’re the CEO of your business.
Leadership isn’t something you get to figure out later, you need to be sporting that skill set from Day One.
And what is the most important leadership skill you can have?
The ability to get people to do what you want them to do in a timely fashion and to the best of their capability on a consistent basis.
See the thread there?
As the CEO of your business, it’s your job to drive outcomes. You need to get the best out of people at all times and keep them focused on their deliverables.
If you’re a solopreneur then that means that leadership for you is about personal discipline and commitment to get good results consistently.
You have to set the strategy, identify the objectives and then drive you and your business to go after what you want. That’s what leadership is – it’s finding a way to get to the result on a consistent basis using the resources you have at your disposal.