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Find Out If You’re A ‘Connector’ Leader Who Inspires Your Team

Leaders who are Connectors inspire and sustain the natural energies of their teams.

Carl Bates

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The Connector inherently unites people, resources and ideas. They see opportunity and how best to leverage that opportunity.

Discover how to maximise the value of this profile’s social capital, be it through your own profile or that of an executive, manager or director on your board.

Uniting Teams

Connectors have a special gift that can unite the right people at the right time and place. This ability to connect is driven from a combined understanding of what people really need and the resources and opportunities available that may best serve those needs.

They excel in communication and being able to talk through ideas, challenges and solutions to create a collective way forward in their area of expertise — the market that they know.

Related: Got The Eye of The Tiger? How To Lead Like A Champion

They are natural diplomats, who love exchanging with others and finding amicable solutions in a calm and practical manner. They will often seek opportunities to mediate for others and support the negotiation for the best possible outcome for all parties.

Connectors will quickly become disengaged if they do not feel a resonance with the underlying promise or cannot see that a solution or connection is mutually-beneficial, sustainable or practical for all parties.

Connectors who have learnt to maximise their natural energy, understand the immense value of their networks, relationships and associations. They invest in these with a long-term view to the future value of the social capital they create.

They demonstrate their ability to seek opportunities for those around them at the right time and place, and to broker value-creating solutions.

connecting-the-dots

The Connector Contribution

A Connector director brings to a board a human touch combined with a deep appreciation of the practical reality faced. They would be concerned about issues affecting the people in the company and any actions considered short-term and non-sustainable. They would be particularly focused on the stakeholders of the company and the extent to which those stakeholder relationships have been maximised.

With an eye for seeing opportunity to leverage others, the Connector director brings diplomacy and deal-making onto the board’s agenda.

Creating return by mobilising their social capital to grow the company, Connectors excel at identifying, engaging and closing deals with aligned partners and stakeholders at an ever increasing value size.

This can result in the company having access to best-in-class research, resources or situations where one strategic relationship opens the door to a much bigger pool of connections.

Related: How The Motivator Ignites Greatness

A Connector director who struggles to maximise their natural energy is one who may have a broad base of contacts, yet does not invest enough time and focus in order for them to translate into sustainable value creation.

They can also get so carried away with the joy of creating new connections that they fail to leverage the real value of their existing database and its associated capital. This may result in an executive team pursuing leads down dead-ends or deals, once explored, that actually lack substance and meaningful potential.

A matured Connector director has learnt how to get to the point in conversations and avoid spending too much time deviating from their core focus, or consuming precious time in a board meeting drifting from the key objective being discussed.

They can therefore unlock massive value through clearly defined board outcomes that they can support to translate into effective action steps in the market place.

Connecting The Dots

The Connector contribution, whether on your board or in your team, ensures that the right people are engaged at the right time, for the right reason. When there is a need for mediation and negotiation, expect the Connector to navigate through the process with ease.

If your board does not seem able to tap into the market or source the right strategic partner, the Connector will open the right doors and expand the board’s thinking about external relationships and high-value market connections.

Related: A Catalyst Can Transform Your Board

Take Our Quiz

Answer Yes or No to the following:

  • You’re able to explain your ideas in a way that inspires your staff
  • When your ideas are questioned you listen and consider another person’s point of view
  • Networking is important to you, you believe relationships will come in handy in the future
  • When faced with conflict, you naturally act as the mediator to help reach an amicable resolution
  • You have a talent for matching the right people together who can both benefit from each other’s networks.

Answered Yes to 4 or more? Then you’re exhibiting the traits of a Connector Leader.

Carl Bates is a global entrepreneur, speaker, author, mentor and director. Currently based in South Africa, he is a dynamic entrepreneur from New Zealand who guides small to medium businesses to achieve Extreme Business Success.

Leading

MAD Leadership Skills: Our Perspectives

Let’s have a look at some aspects around reasons for starting a business, the challenges faced and critical lessons learned.

Spencer Horne and Tshinondiwa Thovhakale

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Some entrepreneurial skills can be taught while others need to be experienced. It is possible to gain skills while working for someone else, but there are perspectives that you can miss if you have not started your own initiative. Let’s have a look at some aspects around reasons for starting a business, the challenges faced and critical lessons learned.

The people who contributed to this content are from different fields of life, in various industries, with a variety of unique goals and ambitions.

Why Start an Entrepreneurial Initiative?

Some people start ventures because they have a good idea, some want to make a difference, and some are lucky enough to have witnessed a family member beginning a legacy. Three themes have been highlighted by our contributors this week:

Entrepreneurship is About Building Your Own or Expanding upon a Family

Member’s Legacy 

Tshinondiwa Thovhakale has started a transport company and has done this because of the memories she shares below: “Growing up I had a good relationship with my dad. I have some of the best memories of him. He owned his own taxi business and drove one of them. He would come to school and fetch me, and before dropping me home, we would go to the taxi rank, take people, and I’d sit in front next to him and count money for him. Then do the normal rounds of dropping people at their destinations, and then he’d take me home and go back to work. I think all that grew on me. When he stopped and made other deals with his taxis, I felt it was our legacy, and I couldn’t let it die like that.”

Related: The Kindling Of The Entrepreneur Spirit

Entrepreneurship is About Following Your Passion:

Spencer Horne stated:

“I wanted to work directly on the needs and problems that are my passion. The independence of starting a business and choosing exactly what to work on has been one of the most fulfilling aspects of my work. “

Entrepreneurship is About Making a Difference:

Many entrepreneurs start a venture because of a need that they would like to fulfil in the market. Some love the idea of feeling good by doing good and making a living out of it.

Things to Think About

Five challenges identified this week are:

  • Networking is essential: People don’t always seek new businesses to uplift, the help their associates, leverage this to your benefit and establish a network of influencers, support, and contacts in the industry.
  • Getting and keeping talent is a task: Especially initially when resources are limited, and you have a lot to do and achieve to grow your business, and cannot do it all alone.
  • You may encounter cultural/societal biases –  learn to use it to your advantage and set a precedent in the industry of what you can achieve: For example, being a female in transport, people may undermine you if they see the industry as a “man’s world” – show them why they’re wrong.
  • You need to make your opportunities when starting a business: There are fewer opportunities when on your own, and you need to build a relationship base to spread your reach. Tenders are often given to the same people and fundraising is one of the most time-consuming aspects of starting or scaling a business. It’s not something that is always enjoyed, and unfortunately, it must take priority over all else until it is achieved.
  • Persistence and flexibility should be balanced: Ironically one needs both an unfaltering belief in what you are doing and the flexibility to pivot out in response to the market. This is one of the most significant and most difficult responsibilities of a business leader.

Lessons Learnt

You need to make your own path

There is no blueprint. Your particular path to building your business will be different to that of others. At times you may learn from the experiences of other entrepreneurs, but be careful of comparisons. Be prepared for the detours and bumps along the road and be sure to take the time to enjoy the journey.

Related: Entrepreneurship Is All About Overcoming Obstacles

The importance of being patient

Patience is vital. Always have back up plans. It is best to venture into a business that you’re passionate about, because it’s the love for the business that will whisper the words “try again, just one more time” every time a challenge comes your way.

The importance of noticing the small wins

Entrepreneurship is a journey and in many cases, a challenging one. With this in mind, it is easy to get frustrated, lose patience and give up. At points, you may feel like no progress has been made. This is when people should remind themselves of the journey that they’ve already walked. It’s important to celebrate the small successes so that we stay positive and forge ahead.

Bringing it All Together

Entrepreneurship isn’t easy, but it is needed. It makes many people happy and helps create jobs and uplift communities. People start initiatives for different reasons, and we all experience challenges. It is through these challenges that we learn and grow.

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Leading

The 3 Dumbest Business Mistakes New Entrepreneurs Make Most Often

Don’t be superficial. Don’t chase too many opportunities. And do sweat the small stuff.

Dillon Kivo

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Most new entrepreneurs make terrible, dumb mistakes that crash their businesses before they can even get started. They make these grave mistakes not because they are unintelligent, have low IQs or possess little experience.

New entrepreneurs allow these blunders because they don’t see them as issues. Thus, they fail to invest their resources into fixing the problems until the problems bulldoze their companies.

In this article, I will give you the top three dumb mistakes new entrepreneurs make, and I will offer a lasting solution to each oversight.

1. Superficiality

We live in a world of superficiality – shallowness, no attention to detail, not focusing on satisfying our customers.

In a world of 140 characters, many of us build products fast and hope for quick cash. The focus is more on “build and sell fast” than on quality and originality. Many entrepreneurs, especially the newbies, fall into this superficiality trap.

These would be entrepreneurs refuse to sharpen their skills, ship broken products and provide terrible customer experience. That’s why many startups don’t see the light of day.

Related: The 5 Biggest Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make

What’s the solution?

  • Customer obsession. Your startup exists to serve your customers. Be obsessed with always pleasing them with your product.
  • Obsessive attention to detail. Before you build or ship any product, check every tiny detail with care. Don’t settle. Don’t let your team rest until you have completed the project to above-standard quality.
  • Constant learning. Knowledge is the antidote of superficiality. Keep learning, so you can satisfy your customers with unstoppable value and become the go-to person in your industry.

In the end, dumping the superficiality habit requires a change in mindset. You can get rid of it with constant practice and obsession with quality. That means focusing on getting good at one thing, before moving on to something else.

Let’s talk about that next.

2. Chasing two rabbits at a time

Amateur founders are quick to craft multiple ideas, bloating their online stores with a vast array of products and constantly re-writing their missions to accommodate their offerings. But is that the brilliant idea they think it is? No, it’s not.

A friend of mine who is a freelance web designer recently told me that he had added copy-writing on top of his web design services. “I want to increase my income, you know,” he excitedly told me.

I told him not to do that. I told him to focus instead on his design services so that he would become known as an expert in that category.

Related: Derek Thomas from Letsema Holdings on Learning from your Mistakes

But he didn’t take my advice. The last time I checked, he had quit his freelancing career altogether.

Obviously, he was frustrated because he was chasing more than one rabbit at a time. As Confucius beautifully said, “Man who chases two rabbits catches neither.” Don’t offer two services or products at a time.

What you need as a new entrepreneur is credibility, not money. And the only way to establish yourself as credible is to focus on refining and improving your skill set, your product and your offering. Only then can your customers regard you as the best provider of a particular product or service.

3. Ignoring “minor issues.”

For new entrepreneurs, a comma splice in their home page copy is not something to worry about. “It’s just a minor issue,” they say. A broken link in their Facebook page is no big deal. “It’s just a minor thing,” they say. One negative customer review? Well, that’s just a “hot-tempered customer,” they say. “It’s just a minor thing.”

But is it? The reality is, these are not minor issues. These are big issues. Remember, all problems start small before they gradually metamorphose into big, uncontrollable setbacks.

That’s how Friendster crashed. It was the hottest social networking company in 2003, which Google wanted to buy for $30 million. But it lost momentum by 2006 due to minor technical glitches, paving the way for Facebook to take over.

Related: 6 Common Mistakes First-Time Business Owners Should Avoid

That little comma splice on your homepage can lead to a tsunami of credibility issues. An error in spelling will then portray your brand as another fake company in the marketplace. Protect your brand. Don’t leave any tiny issue unresolved. Fix it – fast.

Conclusion

When starting up as a new entrepreneur, the first thing to do is avoid making constant business blunders, no matter how insignificant they seem.

Don’t be superficial in responding to your customers’ inquiries. Take your time to provide them with in-depth answers to their questions.

Don’t chase too many opportunities, lest you fall into bloat and overload. Instead, focus on providing one product, and ensure that it stands out from the crowd.

Don’t ignore the small issues. They’ll grow into bigger problems. Nip them in the bud before they destroy your company.

Everyone makes mistakes, even veteran entrepreneurs, but learning how to fix these three big blunders will save your little startup from crashing early.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Leading

Five Lessons In Leadership From Someone Younger Than 25 Years Old

Isabel Nkosi is a recent graduate in strategic brand communication, and a MAD Leadership Foundation Fellow and these are her insights.

David Hatherell and Isabel Nkosi

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Following on from last week’s article, a common theme in starting new initiatives and leading others is to add value to society. Today we would like to highlight five leadership lessons from someone younger than 25 years old. Isabel Nkosi is a recent graduate in strategic brand communication, and a MAD Leadership Foundation Fellow and these are her insights.

Lesson 1: Leadership Is not Always About Your Capabilities

The first time I was lucky enough to assume a leadership position was when I became a class representative in grade 6. From then on it became the norm for my classmates to continually nominate me for these auspicious roles as we progressed through school. I soon realised that some of my peers voted for me because I was seen to be the ‘popular,’ intelligent girl, while some voted for me because they liked my personality.

This led to my revelation that being voted into a leadership role, can sometimes have nothing to do with your capabilities of actually being a leader, and once voted in, will likely to perpetuate you being voted again. This can make you apathetic as a leader, however, must be seen as an opportunity to prove, and continuously improve, your leadership skills and impact in a position of power.

Related: 15 Of South Africa’s Business Leaders’ Best Advice For Your Business

Lesson 2: Good Leaders Care About the People They Represent

In my Matric year, I was outvoted for a leadership position, by someone whom, in their motivation, mentioned that people trusted her to make a difference. I remember how those words haunted me. I kept on asking myself what difference I had made in my previous leadership roles, and it was at this point that the universe taught me what leadership is.

This was when the term “leadership” shifted from being about the title and benefits to the people you represent.

Lesson 3: Leadership is Personal

The older I get, the more personal leadership becomes to me. It has nothing to do with being appointed or chosen by anyone. It is a decision I take for myself to make a difference no matter who I am, no matter where I am, and despite the economic power I hold. More than anything, leadership is a passion – being passionate about recognising the opportunity to do better and waking up each day to do so. I have grown to not only accept but to believe that you can never be too young to lead and inspire others to do better continuously.

Lesson 4: You Are Never Too Young to Lead

If one is to observe the current state of South Africa truly, you would see the need for more young leaders to emerge and to take a stand for the development of our country. Young people are often told ‘you are the leaders of tomorrow’ and that ‘one day – when you are old and wise, you will be given endless opportunities to lead and make a difference.’ I disagree. We need more young vibrant, passionate and committed people to become leaders today because often, tomorrow morphs into never. South Africa’s youth need to stand up and take charge as the country’s new leaders. A fresh mindset that is aimed at benefiting the greater good of the country is needed today.

Related: 22 Qualities That Make A Great Leader

Lesson 5: Leaders Need Support

We are grateful for organisations like Make A Difference Leadership Foundation that is committed to creating a legacy of young leaders. These leaders will grow to be great role models. More importantly, we are grateful for the motivation and support to be leaders in every aspect of our lives as scholars and fellows of the MAD Leadership Foundation program. The world has never been hungrier than it is now for young leaders to embrace the opportunity to lead.

South Africa’s youth constitute 37% of the population and who else is capable of leading this demographic than those who personally relate to their challenges and obstacles? May the youth of our country grasp that there is indeed no more significant time than the now to unapologetically accept that they are a powerful force that is capable of making a positive contribution back to society.

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