As a child I can still remember the musical strains of Broadway plays wafting through our home. My mother seemed to believe that all children should be continuously exposed to such music. To this day it amazes me that little pieces of those songs still march their way across the screen in my mind. Why is that important? Because the foundation, or the start, of an entrepreneurial venture is forever tied to the initial vision of the prospective enterprise. And much like the old refrain “let’s start at the beginning, a very good place to start,” you only get one shot to create the first impression.
Most people view vision as a big picture. They also see it as an approximation with pieces not fully defined because it’s the first thing you do. But there are specific building blocks that are very concrete that you would ignore at your own peril.
As a leadership resource, I have a bit of a different background than most of my colleagues. I worked in the trenches from the beginning of my career first as a financial executive and later as a CEO, CFO, and COO of several companies. In my experience the hardest mountain to climb is that of a startup. Getting things right from the beginning will have a downstream impact on your company forever. The obvious question here is whether the big vision that drives your business includes the big leadership that goes along with it.
My opinion is that in order to have the best vision and best leadership, you should start with the best reason to be in business. Guy Kawasaki in his book The Art of the Start says it this way:
“The best reason to start an organization is to make meaning; to create a product or service to make the world a better place.”
There is no doubt that today’s business world is discovering that the drivers to success must include a vision that has a wide lens. It must take care of more than what the product or service of the company seeks to provide. Gone are the days that the simple mechanics of a good idea will thrust a company into guaranteed success. It takes something more.
This can easily be seen in the demands of the new leaders that are populating our corporate world. They want their entrepreneurial experience to be on the same playing field with their personal development and the benefit to the community in which they live. No matter the output of their organization, the way that it is delivered, as beneficial to all stakeholders, is of paramount importance.
Expansion on the outside requires expansion on the inside. If the reason you start a business is to make meaning in our expanded global market, then you must be willing to encounter your own internal impediments to that outcome. All leaders are people. And all humans come to initiatives with reactive traits that manifest unconsciously. If what you propose to do is deliver into an expanded world, you cannot let your own unseen behavior be the obstacle to your own vision.
Currently, I am engaged in the creation of a new company that will be a conglomeration of a group of smaller companies. The reason I have been asked to create the new management team is to address the personal development of all of the new leaders. The passion of the founder of this ‘roll up’ includes a commitment to the development of each management leader. This founder understands that the engagement in the maturity of each leader will reflect in the ongoing maturation of the entity itself.
I am not going to plumb the depths of leadership development in this short blog post. But I encourage each budding entrepreneur to include in his/her toolkit their own leadership development. Founders everywhere are beginning to understand that getting vision and leadership right form the drivers for their new business.
When I undertook to re-label leadership as rooted in personal development I entitled my work Awakened Leadership. There is no doubt that 15 years ago the concept of a personal awakening would have been lumped with terms like sustainable and renewable. Today, however, making meaning in the entrepreneurial market is understood to include the personal development of a company’s leaders that inures to the benefit of an entire community. In fact, that group is the world community and every one of us must develop a wider holding than the egotistical basis of yesterday’s world.
So, let me ask you. What are the things that you assume cannot be included in business that you believe would benefit our world community? Are you willing to rethink your own belief and find a way to include that in you business and life passion?
ALAN E. SHELTON is a leadership coach, seminar leader, speaker, blogger, and author. His groundbreaking book, Awakened Leadership: Beyond Self-Mastery (May 2012), integrates the corporate leadership and spiritual worlds through his message that awakening is the felt sense that your actions seamlessly reside in who you really are and move in a perfect flow. Learn more about Alan at www.AlanShelton.com.
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