May 26, 2011

Character of a Leader

I recently spoke with someone who just opened his business but has lost his confidence. He feels that his people do not respect him because of mistakes he has made and because he no longer believes in himself. He asked me:

  • “Have you ever been in a situation in which you’ve lost all confidence and question whether you’re doing the right thing?”
  • “Have you been in a situation in which your people don’t look up to you anymore? If so, how did you get back their respect?”
  • “How did you get back your confidence?”

I, too, have experienced doubt and difficulty, as has every successful entrepreneur. All of us have had times in our careers when we have questioned our abilities and lost our confidence. These moments that test us, however, can strengthen our character and ability to lead, if we do not let them defeat us.

Experience has taught me the following lessons to weather adversity and emerge a more effective and inspiring leader:

  • Lead from the front. Show by your intensity and example how to get results. Your WILL will be contagious, and your people will follow.
  • Follow through on your commitments. Demonstrate integrity by doing what you say you are going to do and by excelling at it.
  • Plan and prepare. Spend the weekend organizing the week so that you have more time to lead from the front.
  • Be optimistic and enthusiastic—always. Take your cue from Gene Kelly’s character in the film, Singin’ in the Rain, when he says during the famous rain sequence: “From where I stand, the sun is shining all over the place.” Bring your own sunshine to the day, even if it is pouring outside.
  • Be bold in every venture. Think of the advice the goddess Athens gives Odysseus in the Homer epic, The Odyssey: “You go on inside. Be bold, nothing to fear. In every venture the bold man comes off best…” Never let fear overcome your resolve to achieve your goals and win.
  • Be responsible and accountable. Accept responsibility for a situation and accountability for the result or outcome—good or bad. When you make mistakes, be clear on what you will do to fix them, and then do it.