Tweak Your Biz » Management » 3 Signs You Are A Pre-Leader

3 Signs You Are A Pre-Leader



Sam* is a typical small business owner. He works hard and has built up a stable business over the last several years. He’s entrepreneurial and creative in his ideas. He is enthusiastic about taking his small business beyond the local area. He even has identified potential new markets both regionally and nationally that his new product would be perfect for. But…there is a lurking issue that could stagnate his business. He’s a pre-leader.

What are the signs of being a pre-leader?

# 1. The plan is in your head.

Confusion and a lack of clear communication frustrates people. If no one knows what or where the business is going, it is likely you will meet with resistance. Sam knows what has to be done and the general deadlines but he hasn’t written his strategic plan down or explained his plans with his staff.

# 2. Doing everything yourself.

Sure, sometimes it is easier to do it yourself. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you are spending your time on the right stuff. Think of it this way, just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should.

In Sam’s case, he is used to be the one to do the administrative tasks, design and build the product, serve customers and conduct the sales and marketing. He is wasting the talent of his staff by not delegating some of the work to them.

# 3. You haven’t eliminated your bad habits or old negative thinking patterns.

This happens to a lot of business owners when they’re on the cusp of a growth phase. It falls under the Marshall Goldsmith’s “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There”. It’s funny how a habit like procrastination or our old insecurities pop up when we’re rising to the top.

And yet, these old behaviours and thinking habits can alienate you from your staff, yourself and make it so much harder than it has to be. When Sam gets overwhelmed with the demands on his time and energy, he has a tendency to procrastinate. He knows it. He just hasn’t figured out how to get out of his own way yet.

It’s both a lack of focus and over-focus

Sam is at risk of doing things reactively. He knows what needs to be done to foster this growth stage of his company. That’s where he is entirely focused. He’s meeting new contacts that will facilitate getting the product to the right people.

He is even exploring how to use social media and setting up press releases to get noticed by more traditional media. The lack of  focus comes in when he acts  with a the mindset of “with a hope and a prayer” that things will work out because of the years of preparation.

Pre-leadership is limiting lots of small businesses

There are so many experts on leadership and they point to the same thing. Increasing your self-understanding and learning to take the sky view of your business is essential to effective leadership. Whether you buy into John Kotter’s approach or the Center for Creative Leadership, there are leadership development is worth learning and practicing.

Sam isn’t wrong or even way off base. He simply has only half of the picture. As your business grows, it becomes more clear that you are really taking on the role of managing director (or CEO, if you prefer).

What are some other signs of a pre-leader? How can you increase your comfort level with taking on the more sophisticated role of leader in your small business?

*Name and details have been changed.

Image: “individuality/Shutterstock



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The Author:

Elli St.George Godfrey guides small business owners as they expand in their own community or internationally using her 3 Keys Coaching process helps clients not only navigate growth stages. With each stage of the 3 Keys coaching process, we tackle strategic planning, goal setting, managing change, organizational development and managing the stress and feelings of overwhelm that often plague small to mid-size business owners and executives. This results in clients feeling confident in identifying and developing strategies to be more effective leaders, plan more creatively, increase revenues and overcome the fears and obstacles that interfere with building thriving small to mid-sized businesses. I am also Chief Community Manager of Kaizen Biz and Host of Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz (a chat that uses the concept of "kaizen" for continual improvement in how we think and act in business). Please visit www.abilitysuccessgrowth.com/about/ to learn more and I look forward to meeting you in a complimentary coaching session. http://www.abilitysuccessgrowth.com

Add Your Comment

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    Hi Elli, very interesting post, and a place I think I was at until fairly recently. For me, I was a chaser of business to the point where the contract was more important than whether the business was right or my business. Thankfully, I’ve managed to realign both my thinking and business in the  last few year. Thanks for sharing, Niall   

  • Anonymous

    Niall,

    You’ve provided such a great example of how easy it is to get caught up in being the subject matter expert who gets paid versus the leader who says 1) this is what I envision and 2) this is how this idea/nitiative fits into the vision.

    It’s so easy to think you don’t have time for this higher level of thinking but it is an essential piece to knowing what’s good for you, your staff and your business.

  • Anonymous

    Niall,

    You’ve provided such a great example of how easy it is to get caught up in being the subject matter expert who gets paid versus the leader who says 1) this is what I envision and 2) this is how this idea/nitiative fits into the vision.

    It’s so easy to think you don’t have time for this higher level of thinking but it is an essential piece to knowing what’s good for you, your staff and your business.

  • http://www.smartsolutions.ie/blog/ Elaine Rogers

    A classic pre-leader one for me is not hiring people who are better at what you do. Hiring smart means acknowledging that to grow a great business, you need great people, and possibly greater than yourself.
    As business owners, we can get caught up in the “CEO” idea of the role, and can only hire subordinates.
    Any successful business will demonstrate that there are more experienced, more qualified, more intelligent people at the helm, than the MD themselves. That is a true sign of leadership – lead those who can get on with the job.
    Great post Elli, the small business owner is at risk by trying to do everything themselves. Outsourcing can be an effective way of growing a business as it invites diversity and different perception to the mix :)

  • Anonymous

    Elaine,

    Hiring smart is very crucial. It’s easy to forget as SME owners that the talented people we hire want and expect us to provide them with a vision, a road map and accountability. They run under the presumption that we know a great deal about our businesses and want their talent to make the organisation stronger, more effective and profitable.

    Hiring smart is just as important when it’s outsourcing as much as hiring someone for an in-house position. Great points and thanks for highlighting them!