I am privileged to work with entrepreneurs; Founders, CEO’s and their leadership teams. I truly cherish the opportunity to help leaders bridge critical gaps in performance. I enjoy helping them go “from where they are” to “where they want to be.”
One critical gap I often see is when leaders need to transition from a visionary “founder” mindset. To start a company, leaders need an unshakeable vision; they see the future, (even if others don’t). Moreover, they are able and willing to personally drive everything —while being responsible for every decision. This is what gets companies “out of the gate, and produces extraordinary growth in the early years.”
Do others understand your vision?
As these organizations grow, their leaders often still carry the vision in their head. As they add personnel, they often assume, and usually incorrectly, that others understand it fully. They have habits that worked early on, but won’t work as personnel are added. In addition, they have been so focused on driving results they often haven’t paid much attention to themselves—to growing themselves as leaders.
For me this gap is easy to spot. Their teams report lack of clarity about where they’re going, with sudden shifts in direction; lack of standardized processes and procedures, challenges attracting and retaining talent, high levels of stress, etc. The leaders are burning out, often experiencing health challenges, and feeling overwhelmed all of the team.
I recently facilitated a leadership team retreat to assist a successful, high-growth company. Our goal was to build a cohesive leadership team and to communicate the leaders’ vision. The CEO and I prepared for months. All the information was developed into a specific format that permitted sharing, and the expressing of reactions and reservations. The results were impressive. At the end, the team used words such as “inspired, clarity, hopeful, expectant, optimistic.” The team reports high levels of engagement and desire to align with the vision, while making commitments to move forward.
How to begin?
We begin by understanding where we are. This is best done through working with a coach-or someone in our life who can act in that role. Trying to do this alone is not the quickest, nor is it the most effective way forward. Moreover, it’s important that this person see us as whole, while being able to hold the mirror up to our greatest possibilities by inviting us to explore our “blind spots.”
Many people I’ve worked with have an idea of what it is that’s holding them back. They just don’t know how to go about making the changes. To assist, we offer a Leadership 360, an assessment tool that provides quantitative and qualitative feedback on the most important behavioral characteristics for effective leadership. I’ve seen individuals create significant changes based on what they learned from this information, while supported with a coaching focus.
Leadership vision by itself isn’t enough.
Growing a company from the early stages to sustainable performance requires more. At the center is the leader’s own level of maturity; the self-awareness to combine courage with compassion. This is an ongoing journey. There is no “there.” When leaders do their own internal work, being willing to change, to become uncomfortable, in service of the larger goal, they model this for their teams.
This internal self-awareness, when combined with sharing their vision, is a powerful foundation for extraordinary results.
To learn more about how you can develop this and other important leadership skills you might not yet know, I hope you’ll check out my new book, “Inner Switch: 7 Timeless Principles to Transform Modern Leadership.” You can purchase it from your favorite online retailer at www.susansfreeman.com.
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