Dear Entrepreneur,You Have One Role: To Lead

Dear Entrepreneur,You Have One Role: To Lead

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Ever heard the expression: Teams build business not people? Well this statement is true, but it’s not the whole truth.

The whole truth is that teams build businesses, and leaders build people. So if you want to build a business, then build a formidable team. And if you want to build a formidable team, be a formidable leader.

Over the past two years I have been working hard on re-engineering my business. I have pulled my team out of non-core businesses, re-set the business strategy to focus on work we are passionate about, elevated the goals of the team to focus on doing globally significant work and aligned the team members of the business with the values of the organisation.

The trouble with this kind of hard slog, though, is that it is behind the scenes and not sexy at all. It lacks the appeal of the customer-facing actions that we instinctively want to focus on when we build a business. It’s not about fancy presentations and innovation workshops. It’s about getting the basics right.

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Look at the following questions with your team:


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  • Are we headed in the right direction?
  • Do we all know what we must do to get there?
  • Do we know why it matters?
  • Will this leave us more fulfilled?

Much of this thinking is about the very basis of the business you are building as an entrepreneur.

So what are the hallmarks of leaders that build great teams? I have been studying this for some time now in a quest to make myself a better leader. My research has revealed to me that there are three characteristics of effective leaders.

1. They are humble in the face of knowledge

Effective leaders know and are comfortable in the knowledge that they do not know everything. This may sound trivial, but in the modern day where many business leaders are seen as messiahs, there is a tendency by followers to abdicate their responsibility of free-thinking to the leader.

The rate at which the world is generating new knowledge far supersedes the rate at which the human brain can absorb new knowledge. So even if you spent your entire life studying everything there was to know about your industry and subject matter, you would never come to a point where you know everything.

2. They are stubborn

Stubborn-attribute

Part of the journey of entrepreneurship is accepting the hard fact that things often don’t go your way. In fact, I would argue that we lose more than we win. It’s just that our quantum of wins is greater than our quantum of losses. So we take small bets that often don’t pay off but when they do pay-off, it’s big.

Leaders understand that ‘things not going your way’ is part of the chant of entrepreneurs. So we have to learn to be resilient and resolute in our pursuit of our goals. You have to be stubborn in the face of possible defeat.

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3. They have a clear elevating goal

People and teams are galvanised around a clear elevating goal. Not just any goal. It must be clear so that the team is clear on what the eventual goal is. It must also elevate them beyond their current reality. It must draw the team toward aspiring towards something. It must pull them toward it with the gravitational force of a black hole.

Most entrepreneurs get caught in the everyday trap of sameness — so much that they forget to lead. And leadership is everything.

Do this

Get your team-building basics right, focus on leadership, and inspire others to follow you, and the success of your business will be a given.

Vusi Thembekwayo
Mr. Vusi Thembekwayo has been an Independent Non-Executive Director of at RBA Holdings Ltd. since May 14, 2013. Mr. Thembekwayo has already collected numerous accolades and awards as businessperson, entrepreneur and international public speaker. Mr. Thembekwayo completed a PDBA and a course on advanced valuation techniques with the Gordon Institute of Business Science and completed a Management Acceleration Programme (Cum Laude) with the Wits Business School. His speaking achievements include the international hit talk “The Black Sheep” which he delivered to the Top 40 CEOs in Southern Africa, addressing the Australian Houses of Parliament and speaking at the British House of Commons. To add to this, Vusi speaks in 4 of the 7 continents over 350 000 people each year.

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