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Leading Beyond Self-Doubt

Self-belief is intrinsic to good leadership.

Stephen Light

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Entrepreneurs are brilliant at taking ideas and turning them into reality. As a business grows, so does the need for people with skills in all areas. This is when most entrepreneurs require leadership skills to ensure people help the business thrive.

A great leader is someone who knows who they are. The single most limiting belief of any successful leader is self-doubt. One of the biggest fears that leaders in today’s modern world have is being discovered to be a fraud.

When I first heard this statement I was really intrigued. Was this the inner saboteur that most leaders carried around with them? Could this possibly be the driver of arrogant aggressive behaviours that are synonymous with “getting the job done?”

I am not suggesting that all leaders behave aggressively and arrogantly. My experience has shown me that when the pressure is on, most leaders resort to an aggressive approach to achieving results. I call this a positional leadership approach.

Positional leaders

Leaders who use the power afforded by their position and title to get people to do the job invariably have an inability to manage themselves. They lack a solid foundation of self-belief that drives a healthy esteem.

They doubt that a caring and firm assertive approach will get compliance. This doubt, coupled with many past experiences of aggression getting results, is the evidence they use to justify their approach.

Look at organisations you work in and have worked in. Notice who gets promoted and what type of behaviour is rewarded. I guarantee that it is mostly people who get results and that these people mostly get their results through people, not with them. Aggression and fear are the unwritten rules of the culture.

Symptoms include gossiping, poorly handled conflict, broken relationships, people’s contribution seldom recognised.

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You Can Be Inspiring Regardless of Your Leadership Style. Find Out More Here.

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Servant leaders

Servant leaders are leaders who achieve with others. They know themselves and have a healthy appreciation and deep respect for the person they are. They have self-belief. Being challenged by others does not diminish them in any way.

They see challenges as a sign of a healthy work environment where people are allowed to explore and express their views.

Servant leaders encourage conflict and know they can manage it. They want people to get meaning from their work and know this is what will drive fulfillment and a commitment to business. This will have people bring their hearts to work.

This approach requires a leader who is willing to be wrong, willing to listen beyond the words and hear the request behind people’s challenges. These leaders lead beyond self-doubt.

The impact on you

My experience of coaching leaders is that they have a huge fear of being discovered that they actually don’t know how to lead people. This is what they tell themselves.

This limiting belief drives self-doubt and has leaders resort to positional leadership where a fear driven culture is created and authority is not challenged. This way they cannot be found out.

Your journey to being a great leader is one of self-discovery. The more you get to know yourself and love yourself, the more self-belief you have. Self-belief is the antidote to self-doubt.

Great leaders are ordinary people who have learned to genuinely care about themselves. They have no need for external validation as they have healthy self-esteem.

These leaders do the right thing versus what will have people like them or promote them. They can handle criticism and are flexible to changing where required. This is all possible, as they have invested in the most important person – themselves.

Growing self-belief

There are many ways we can grow our self-belief. What I have come to know is that the more I invest in myself, the stronger I am as a person. I trust myself and I trust in the process of life.

  • Don’t compare yourself to others – you are unique
  • Spend 10 minutes every morning and evening quietly focusing on your breath. This creates an inner space for self-management
  • Celebrate your achievements
  • Acknowledge your ‘failings’ and seek the lessons
  • Read and grow your knowledge and understanding of your area of business
  • Trust people by asking them “What do you think?” This will help grow humility.

The world needs leaders who care about others. We can only care about others and demonstrate this in leadership when we care about ourselves. The shift is from self-doubt to self-belief. The key word is self. Only you can give it to yourself.

Stephen Light is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, an Associate Certified Coach and an Organisational Relationship Systems Coach. Light assists people and teams to become aware of what is holding them back and then to become conscious and intentional about how they want to be in relationship with themselves and their teams. He helps businesses get teams on track, creating alliances that have teams work from a place of alignment versus the position of difference. He teaches people to understand who they are and why they behave the way they do. Light helps people become responsible and accountable for their lives and the lives of those they impact on. People Activ

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. bongani sibeko

    Oct 10, 2013 at 21:09

    Great article, indeed the world is in dire need of servant leaders, leaders who have identified their treasure to share with others.
    it is this treasure/gift that inspires such boldness and self-belief that secures and assures such leaders in their positions, they don’t feel threatened by anyone because they know their worth and value they carry.
    Thanks for your great insight on this topic Stephen!

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Leading

4 Common Myths About Leadership That Can Hold You Back

Alignment with your values and belief systems is the foundation of becoming an effective leader.

Malachi Thompson

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To be a great leader in today’s world, being a brilliant knowledge expert or technician is no longer enough. Even harder is trying to learn the golden rules of the wrong and right ways to be a great leader. The amount of content spouted in countless books and resources is overwhelming let alone confusing.

To be unstoppable leaders for our businesses and our people, tuning out from the noise and distractions potentially misguiding us is pertinent now more than ever. Pay attention to any presence of these four myths and make guiding your people a more soul-enriching journey that they and you will want to continue well past your leadership term’s end.

Myth 1: Great leaders are highly ranked individuals

Richard Branson proves a classic example of how great leaders can get to the top without having ivy-league school connections and astounding qualifications. Having had enough of struggling at school, Branson dropped out of the highly reputed Stowe boarding school at the age of 16 to start a magazine called Student. The first publication sold $8000 worth of advertising. We all know the Virgin story from there on. Then there are the likes of Rachael Ray, food industry personality whose empire has amassed a $60M fortune without her having any culinary qualifications whatsoever.

There’s a common entrepreneurial DNA that runs through the veins of such leaders. An avant-garde vision, tenacity and patience seem to be common underlying themes for many. For others, it’s about making sacrifices and taking risks that could cost their life to serve a cause extending far beyond serving their own needs.

Related: 22 Qualities That Make A Great Leader

By publicly speaking out against the Pakistan Taliban’s extremist rulings, one of which of was to prevent females from accessing education, Malala Yousafzai became a target. At 15 years of age, a masked gunman boarded her school bus and shot her in the head. She survived and many months of rehabilitation spurred her determination to fight for every girl to have the opportunity to attend school. The work she achieved through establishing the Malala Fund with the undying support of her father, earned her the Nobel Peace Prize in December of 2014.

Whether from desperation or a happy place there is always the genesis of a passion driving a persistence to go against the grain and to continue the fight. Often there’s no formal training, qualification or certification in sight.

Myth 2: Following a certain checklist of behaviours will make you a great leader

The ‘fake it ‘til you make’ adage has become a common throw-away phrase consultants and coaches spout as a means to quickly build confidence. Following advice to merely emulate the behaviour of those you admire and respect can pose grave risks, especially when you become a leader by default as opposed to by your own audition. Smart teams can smell falsehood and copycats a mile away. Your integrity will often be scrutinised and your jury will constantly evaluate the values and principles you lead by. One foot wrong might end your leadership term just as quickly as it began and not necessarily by your team’s choosing.

Imagine being tasked with driving credit card sign-ups yet you yourself struggle to make repayments on your own overdraft. How long can you resist your inner conscience? You’ll feel the tug every time you invite a customer to sign up and at every request to your team to follow suit. At some point, you’ll be struggling to face yourself see in the mirror.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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9 Ways To Get Employees To Buy Into Your Vision

Your business is your dream come true, now it’s time to include your employees in your vision to drive future success.

Nicholas Bell

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Your vision statement is the foundation of your business. It is the baseline against which all strategic planning is assessed and the benchmark against which all results are measured. However, as important as it is to have a vision when it comes to business success, it is equally important to get your employees to buy into this vision to ensure that success.

Here are nine ways to get your employees to buy into your vision by making it their dream, as much as it is yours…

  1. It must be believable – Your company vision needs to be within the realms of possibility otherwise people just won’t believe in it. It must be steady, achievable and relevant.
  2. It must be inclusive – Employees need to see how they can play a part in achieving this vision to make it relatable and inclusive. If they don’t understand what the business does, they won’t care how well the business does.
  3. It must be reinforced – Talk about your vision all the time. Don’t assume everybody has read it or is familiar with it as new people may not have seen it and older people may have forgotten. Constant communication is critical to ensure everyone is, literally, on the same page.
  4. It must be transparent – Make sure your communication around your vision is open and clear. Talk about it with clients, with all staff members, at all meetings and keep on talking until everyone understands it. When a vision is tangible and accessible it is far more achievable than when it is ethereal and vague.
  5. It must be practical – Don’t make flamboyant statements that are almost impossible to achieve like, ‘We will be number one in X!’. Be practical. It doesn’t matter if you’re not number one, it does matter  that  your vision is practical.
  6. It must be shared – Connect people’s careers to the vision by creating opportunities for them. Show them how the work they do is tied back to the vision and the business. If the business is only about profit and customer, then employees often don’t see how they fit in or why they are important. Create opportunities for them and they will be inspired to achieve your vision.
  7. It must be people-centric – People make up the core of your business. It is bigger than just one person or one idea. So, give them something to aspire to with a realistic, practical and human company vision.
  8. It must have purpose – Embed your vision and its values into the way you do business. The way you treat your employees and your customers and the choices you make should all reflect your vision.  Take it beyond just ‘We want to make money’ and show how your vision positively affects your community and others.
  9. It must be visible – Put your vision on doors, in emails, on letterheads, in proposals. Show what you stand for at every opportunity. Employees need to feel that there is a cohesive plan for the future. This will not only drive engagement but it will keep them steadfast when times get tough – they believe in the ship too much for it to sink.

Related: 22 Qualities That Make A Great Leader

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What’s Your Number? How To Unpack Company Valuations

Business is booming. Investors want in. But how do you put a price on the value of the company you have built with your own hands?

Louw Barnardt

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Company valuations is such a hazy part of the scale-up journey of a private company. Putting a price tag on a business is both art and science. At the end of the day, the number that makes the headlines (if ever disclosed) will be where willing buyer and willing seller meet.

But how do you , as business owner,  go about setting your asking price? Before approaching investors, it’s a good exercise to determine your own valuation range for the business. Choosing the right valuation method is the first big question. The answer has many parts to it, but the most important driver is the stage of the business.

Let’s look at some of the most commonly accepted valuation methods in our market:

Earnings Multiple

Applicable stage: Established, profitable companies

Listed companies, institutional players and private equity investors normally invest in a company for its cash flow profit that can contribute to their portfolio income. More often than not, companies will be valued based on their current earnings (bottom line profit after tax).

This method can only be used for companies that consistently make a profit. A multiplier will be chosen based on the company’s perceived risk. Younger, more risky businesses will likely have lower multipliers (as low as 3 and 4) and high growth, well established, lower risk companies will get higher multipliers (8-15).

Sometimes small adjustments are made to current year earnings (like non-standard, non-repeating income statement items) after which the valuation is set at Earnings times multiplier equals company valuation.

Related: 7 Factors That Influence Start-up Valuations

Discounted Cash Flow (DCF)

Applicable stage: Post-revenue start-ups, growth companies and established businesses

The most commonly used method in practice, the DCF method argues that a company’s value is determined by the future cash flows that it will yield to investors.

The starting point is creating a five to ten year cash flow forecast for the business. This is no small feat. In order to create a full financial model – income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement – for the next decade requires a lot of work, both from a strategic and technical perspective.

Investors love this model because if forces the owners to put a clear strategy and expansion plan for their business into numbers. It will include dozens if not hundreds of assumptions – all of which can be scrutinised for reasonability. The result of financial model will be five to ten years’ worth of projected cash flows. These amounts are then discounted to present value at a discount rate that reflects the company’s risk and expected cost of capital.

The sum of the discounted future cash flows plus a terminal value (that represents the value after the five or ten year period of the model) then represents the valuation of the company after some final small adjustments for things like existing debt in the business.

Revenue Multiples

A revenue multiple valuation approach is focused on the market for similar businesses and is underpinned by your company’s current turnover. It seeks out the sales price of other similar companies in the country or worldwide, adjusted for size, stage and market differences.

A company that sold for R100 million at a turnover of R50 million would have a two times revenue multiple (valuation/revenue). If the average revenue multiple for similar companies is in a certain range, this multiple is then slightly adjusted and applied to your business.

If the average sale in your industry has been two times revenue but you are growing much faster than the average with a better competitive advantage, you can argue that two and a half times revenue is a more applicable number for your business. Revenue multiples are often used as a reasonability check in the market for the current asking price.

Related: Why Start-ups Like Uber Stumble When They Scale

Other methods

Most established companies are valued using one or a combination of more than one of the above three methods. At start-up stage, there are a number of other methods like Cost to Replicate or the Scorecard Method that early stage investors look to. When a company is simply in too early stage to practically value it, seed stage investors would also consider SAFE Agreements (Simple Agreement for Future Equity) – an instrument that determines that the percentage of the company the investors are buying with their investment. This is only determined when the Series A round is raised at a future date and under certain conditions, generally at a discount to the price the series A investors are paying.

Company valuations are complex. Many of the above technical factors play a role. A lot of it also comes down to the salesmanship of the owners and the negotiating capabilities of the parties. In ‘How Yoco Successfully Secured Capital And The Importance Of A Pitch’, the Yoco team speak about the importance of the right approach in their recent R248 million fundraising

Don’t go into this process without seeking some kind of expert advice. The price of the wrong valuation is simply too high. Make your numbers and your arguments bulletproof and you will be on your way to defending a strong and exciting valuation for your next raise!

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