Leadership Lessons from Today’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs: It used to be that it took several years to work your way up the rankings to become a business leader. Back in the “old days,” you joined a company at a junior level and, over time, worked your way into more responsible positions through a series of promotions. Eventually, you might have a corner office and a number of staff members reporting to you.
Leadership Lessons from Today’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs
Times have changed in a major way over the past several decades, in large part to the dot-com boom of the 1990s, which saw young entrepreneurs starting companies out of college, and in some cases, while still matriculating.
Today, there are countless young business leaders who own and operate companies. They’re often successful and popular in the media. But do they really know how to lead?
Turns out, they do – and those who don’t are quick to learn. Many leaders are glad to provide their advice to these newly minted success stories.
“Younger CEOs need a whole lot of confidence in themselves and their mission,” writes Barry Salzberg, global CEO of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited. “You likely have very few resources. And there’s a good chance you’re going to fail.”
He strongly advises young business leaders to seek advice from mentors. “It’s a fact; some people won’t understand your vision. Some people will think they’re being helpful by telling you to give up. At the same time, mentors will never be more important in your career than they are right now. Mentors help us look at problems differently, and see things in us that we can’t see ourselves.”
New leaders also need to know that the people who work for them are their most valuable assets. Some CEOs are quick to reach out to their employees and begin building rapport. Take Joe Sexton. On his first day as president of worldwide field operations at AppDynamics, a San Francisco firm, he announced to employees that he would respond to any email he received from an employee that same day, and would return any phone call prior to the end of the next business day.
“It’s that kind of accessibility and communication that is very powerful,” Sexton says. It’s interesting to note that at least two-thirds of AppDynamics’ 150 employees are younger than 35. He learned from his son that, “You ask them to do something, they’re going to say, ‘Why?’ This generation–you just can’t manage them the old way. They’re used to being heard, used to being involved.
The ability to lead a team and to believe in yourself are equally important. Your staff will look to you for guidance, but there will be times when you have to depend on your own decision-making capabilities.
As CEO of The Vanbex Group & Vanbex Labs in Vancouver, Kevin Hobbs has been a major force in the blockchain space since 2013. A popular speaker at blockchain-related events, he’s also an unabashed team-builder when he’s in the office.
“I make it a priority to engage and lead my team’s every day to make sure they have the support they need to be successful,” says Kevin Hobbs. “My goal is to build confidence and self success with everyone who works for me.
One of the most critical challenges all CEOs face in today’s world is change. Even when it’s not expected, CEOs need to be prepared to lead their teams through change and often to lead the change itself.
“Any successful CEO must be able to embrace change and be prepared to be flexible and agile; rapid change is a fundamental part of business today,” writes Lolly Daskal, CEO of Lead From Within.
It goes without saying that everyone has their own style of leadership. The difference between a manager and a leader, however, is being comfortable with assessing and taking risks coupled with the ability to ignite action in others.