I keep thinking of when Harvey Dent said,
“You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”
As the hero, that’s kind of a cruddy choice: you have to die, quit, or keep being the hero so long that cynism eventually takes hold of you and you become the villain that you once fought to destroy.
Fortunately, I don’t think that quote is entirely true.
I think you can, with hard work, determination, and intentional practice, stay the hero.
Of course, I don’t know much about being a superhero. But I do know a thing or two about being the leader of a business.
And there are a surprising amount of parallels.
As the leader, it’s your job to inspire people to meaningful action, cast a vision for the future, and save your employees from slothfulness, carelessness, and cynism.
It’s not beating up bad guys, but it many ways, it’s harder.
Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to become the villain — the uninspiring or frustrating leader that made you quit your 9-5 job in the first place.
So how can you and I become the leaders that our businesses need in order to grow? Here are a few pieces of advice from my own experience.
1. Learn How To Lead EACH Employee
One of the most difficult parts of leadership is understanding the motivations of your employees.
The truth is, each of your employees wants to be lead differently — they all have different goals, different visions for the future, and even a different reason for being with your company.
Your job is to find out what makes each of your employees tick and then use that information to lead them.
Some people will be motivated by money, others will be motivated by recognition, and others will be motivated by having full authority and responsibility for a certain project.
Sit down with each employee, create an environment of honesty, and figure out how you can lead them better.
2. The More You Grow, The More They’ll Grow
It’s been said that you can only lead people as far as you’ve gone yourself.
And that makes sense — telling people to go somewhere that you’re not willing to go creates frustration and discouragement.
You need to lead.
And the best way to lead is by example.
If you want your employees to be more productive, to build good habits, and to get excited about your company’s vision, then you darn-well better show them what that looks like.
3. Take Full Responsibility For Your Attitude
It’s no great secret that a leader’s attitude has a massive impact on the attitudes of the people around him. If you’re inspired, then your employees are inspired. If you approach challenges and obstacles without losing your head, your employees will do the same. If you respect your employees and their opinion, then they really respect you.
But the opposite is also true.
In the 21 Irrefutable Laws Of Leadership, Max Maxwell wrote,
“The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That’s the day we truly grow up.”
So how is your attitude?
Are you inspiring your employees with optimism… or are you discouraging them with pessimism?
P.S. Have you seen the new mailers we just released over at our sister company, Ballpoint Marketing? These comic-style pieces are getting crazy response rates. Go over to Ballpoint Marketing and enter the code “comic” to get $0.10 off per mailer!