Leader or an Employee?

How much of your time at work do you spend doing other duties, like making the tea, fetching postage stamps and posting the mail going to the post office, paying the bills, working out PAYE or your VAT returns, chasing clients for payments and so on….?

How much of your time at work do you spend being an employee?

Are you spending more than 25% of your time being an employee, when I say employee I am referring to you doing the duties of a person you can employ to do for you? If you’re doing the day to day duties of an employee, then who is leading the company? Yes you might be the boss / owner, but you are still an employee. If you are not leading or building your business for sustainable growth, then you have created a job for yourself and not a business.

In my years as a mentor working with high growth entrepreneur and business leaders, I have discovered that there are two types of leaders, those that are working in the business and those that are working on the business. In my earlier years I spent countless hours and day battling with business leaders to change their ways by working on the business rather than in the business. I enjoy working with the leaders and entrepreneurs who are working on the business because they can see the opportunities and the possibilities as soon as you identify them. In my opinion these are the great future leaders of tomorrow.

There is nothing wrong in working in your business if you have someone who is leading the business and is working on the business for you. In my professional opinion I have only seen this in less than a handful of times in my life, that is because very few SME’s have the vision to look that far ahead. This then creates a double blow to the company, one, no visionary and two, no leadership.

If you ask five different people what the roll of a leader is, you will get five different answers and that is because the roles of leadership are open to interpretation, it is important that you define the role in order to share it with others and more important in order to develop the role in yourself.

3 Key Elements of Leadership

There are three key elements of an effective leader:

  • Vision
  • Action 
  • Spirit

Let’s take a look at the first key element of an effective leader which is Vision, having the vision for the bigger picture for the future of your organisation, the end goals for the finished projects that need to be achieved.

“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion.”
–Theodore Hesburgh, President of the University of Notre Dame

"There's nothing more demoralizing than a leader who can't clearly articulate why we're doing what we're doing."
-- James Kouzes and Barry Posner

Next is Action which is creating strategies, systems and processes for the accomplishment of the leaders vision. It is amazing how many entrepreneurs and leaders don’t have the courage to take action of the visions they have for their dreams until it’s too late. Whatever ideas / opportunities you come up with are only as good as the action you take to see them in to reality. It’s taking action that counts and not worrying about failure, successful leaders will tell you “There’s no failure only feedback” and that the only real failure is not taking action and just dreaming about what could be or could have been.

Finally Spirit, this is sharing your vision, and allowing the team to participate in creating your action plans, strategies, systems and processes together as a team, because it will be the team who will have to deliver the results. The best way to inspire your team to take action to achieve your vision by sharing and allowing everyone to be part of your vision and collectively everyone contributes.

As a business leader you need to be sure that you have a clear vision of your strategic objectives, your end goals, the clearer you make your vision be it by numbers, by painting a picture, by business planning or by any other way best to be able to share your vision with other members of your team. You need to be able to describe the end result and why these results are so important to you.

The Why

One of the most important parts of the vision is to explain why you or the organisation needs to achieve these end goals. If your why is not clear and powerful enough you will have difficulty convincing other team members to support and help you achieve your end goals. The more you break it down the better understanding you will have and the greater the chances your team will understand it better. I have seen visions develop from a poor idea to a successful and sustainable growth strategy with the help of employees along with leaders.

The more you can describe your why to your team the greater the chances are they will be able to share your vision and help you on your journey together to fruition.

What’s in it for the Team?

This is another common mistake leaders forget when planning their vision and the employees never give it the full support the vision might deserve. What is the long term implications of the vision for the employees and what will it do for the employees in the short term and what will it do for them in the long term. Will it mean security of their jobs, more pay, longer hours during the project but longer holidays when project is finished and so on.

Focus and Discipline

We all know as leader we need to focus on the bigger picture and the smaller details and tasks are left to the management of the organisation. In order to succeed we need the right team on board to help us achieve our vision and strategic objectives in the organisation. Focus and discipline play a major role in the success of the leaders and the teams that managing the organisation.

When selecting your team, it is crucial that these two qualities are present in the team. Building a successful business requires the ability to focus on the bigger picture for the leader and the finer details and the day to day running of the business is the job of the management and the employees and not the leader.

Moe Nawaz: Author - Speaker -  Strategic Advisor & Mentor to FTSE 100 Leaders

FEEDBACK: Do you find this true in your life? Care to share some personal examples?.

4 Responses to “Leader or an Employee?”

  1. Anna Green says:

    Great article, I think focus is so critical to everyones success, without clear focus for a leader is deadly. If as a leader you don’t know where you are going how will the rest follow you and to where?

  2. Peter Morris says:

    I can relate to this article and can say I have been guilty of being an employee and working in the business rather than working on the business. It is very easy to think no one else can do the job better than us and we need to do it and we never trust or train anyone else to do the job as well as us.

    The problem is we have to train others to take on responsibilities and duties we use to do, yes they will make mistakes at first so did we when we started but people learn from mistakes.

    Biggest problem is letting go and trust other team members to take on the smaller tasks and move on to the bigger picture.

    Great title Leader or an employee, really hits you between the eyes, Moe you don’t hold back your punches, which is nice to see.

  3. A good read- well done! Application of leadership skills is easy for some and a nightmare for others. Confidence, commitment and consistency of application, with passion and fairness, must also be applied in equal measure to empower others for long term success. A cup of coffee also helps- whoever makes it!

  4. Tony Starr says:

    All leaders need to have a good vision for any organisation and being able to share your vision in order to get buyins from investors and employees is so important. A good lead will have no problem sharing his vision and explaining it in details so that everyone buys in to the vision.

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