There’s a Time to Lead and a Time to Collaborate


There’s a Time to Lead and a Time to Collaborate

As business owners, we are all leaders whether you like it or not.

But each of us has a different personality type, some lead with it’s my way or the highway, whilst others seek collaboration in every decision they make.

I believe that there’s a time when you need to step up as the leader and other times when it is appropriate to collaborate. The trick is to learn to work in both modes and to know when to use each.

I’ve recently spent a week with high-performance leaders, each on a mission to change the world and make a difference. No matter how small that change may be, it’s important. Remember the saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day” which you can take to mean that it takes time to achieve anything, but I also think you take that to mean that every brick counts, every action, even if all you do is change one person’s life in some way, you’ve made a difference.

Now we don’t all need to change the world, it would be good if we could, but in reality, many people go into business for the freedom to work how they please and to potentially make more money than they did as an employee. For many, the sad truth is a different story with longer working hours, less time with family and less money too.

Time to lead.

As the leader of your business, I believe it is your responsibility to choose the path that the business takes, to decide on the business purpose.

The ‘why’ the business exists. I’ve recently been through an exercise with a business where the aim was to collaboratively determine the purpose of the business. What I found interesting but not surprising was that most of the group didn’t really get it.

They see the purpose as enjoying work, working with people they like and making money. All of which is fine but they didn’t understand that what they were being asked to help identify was the higher purpose, the real ‘why’ the business exists.

My personal belief is that the business owner needs to take the lead on the purpose of the business.

Firstly, the owner needs to enunciate the reason why they started the business, what they want to achieve from it and then potentially seek collaborative input from the other stakeholders in the business to refine it, improve it, tweak it and change it, if appropriate.

My experience has shown that when you take the lead on the business purpose and enunciate it clearly, other people will want to jump on board and be a part of it. Think Steve Jobs and Apple and closer to home, Justin Dry from Vinimofo who at a recent Amex panel event talked about people wanting to work for Vinimofo such that they’ve never had to advertise jobs. They’ve already bought into the Vinimofo purpose and want to be a part of it.

Time to collaborate.

Once you’ve got people who have bought into your business purpose, then it’s time to switch from leadership mode to collaboration mode.

It’s in determining the’ what’ and ‘how’ that collaboration works best. Seeking input from different stakeholders with different backgrounds will result in brainstorming a better result than you as the business owner and leader would be able to create on your own. The “two heads are better than one” philosophy.

In your business:

  • Have you identified your higher purpose?
  • Do you have a vision for your business that is clear that your team and customers/clients know and understand and want to be a part of?
  • Do you seek input from your team and customers/clients about what you do, how you do it, what can be improved, what new products or services you could offer, and so on?

Be the leader when you need to. Set your business purpose and hold strong to that vision. Then seek collaboration on the detail of the ‘what’, ‘how’ and ‘when’.

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