Self-Reflective Leadership – a cornerstone in any small business
The most effective entrepreneur asks themselves the tough questions. They shine the spotlight on themselves during the most confronting feedback, position the mirror in their direction during challenge. They invite opportunities to consistently pulse check, learn from their mistakes and receive feedback from their customers and those who work with them.
As a business owner, having the courage to impose an audit on ourselves is the most useful thing we can do. It builds our leadership capability through self-awareness, and provides data to develop our business acumen. Being transparent with ourselves is key to ensuring we don’t get caught up in a story that is a version of the truth. And sometimes, a personal leadership audit unearths things that contradict our past stories and is hard to hear.
So what should we ask ourselves when holding this mirror up to our own reflection? Here are the six most powerful questions you can ask yourself as a business owner:
1. Why do we do what we do?
If you are unclear on the driving purpose behind your business (the bigger picture, the reason for all of it, the contribution you want to make to the world, that firey determination that gets you out of bed in the morning), your customers will also feel unclear about what they are buying from you. Very few people willingly jump on board a rudderless ship without a clear destination.
Without clarity on on your ‘why’, you’ll find yourself being pulled in different directions, saying ‘yes’ when you should say ‘not now thank you’ and responding and reacting rather than thinking strategically and making purpose-led decisions. Check out Simon Sinek’s work on purpose
to give yourself a prompt or two.
2. What are we known for and what do we want to be known for?
The identity of your business is communicated through everything you do: from the colours you use in your branding, your stockists and partnerships, your social media posts, your processes, customer service, to how you deal with conflict.
What you set out to be known for might be very different to what you are known for. Are you known for not responding? Are you known for not being flexible for clients? Are you known for inconsistency in your output? Are you known for selling shoes when you really wanted to sell clothes?
Take the opportunity to redefine what you want to be known for in the future, and work on how this might translate into action. We’ve got some great prompts in our Free Business Plan Template which you can download here
3. What can we amplify and leverage?
If anything was possible, and your business was everything you’d hoped for, if you had all the resources in the world – what would you personally do more of?
What do you know works really well but you could turn up the heat a little more on? Do you challenge yourself to play big, and distill those big dreams into simple achievable goals that work toward the impact you know you can make on the world? Press pause on trying to grow, expand or add to your services without really exploring what you already do, and seeing if there is a way to streamline, amplify or leverage it better. A simple business audit can do wonders for this, get in touch
if we can help with this.
4. How do I personally use my strengths to get results for the business?
What are you doing when you are at your best? What strengths do you bring to your business from a leadership perspective? If you can’t answer that on the spot clearly, find out.
Knowing your strengths (personally and from a business perspective) allows you to differentiate your business from the competition – in fact, competition becomes less of a threat. When we focus on what is right about us, we begin to see more of it.
Strengths come naturally and are often the most effortless resource to draw from. They also generate more energy for you when you use them. The easiest way to quickly connect with your strengths and how they translate into your business is to complete the VIA survey
. Allow this great free tool to help you articulate what your strengths are, how they translate into functions of the business, and outsource and delegate the tasks that don’t align with your strengths to those who have strengths in those areas.
5. How can I learn from my past and present?
Past businesses, past jobs and past customers and sales will provide rich data on what could be done better in the future. We often debrief a job or sale that was successful – do you ever debrief a job that went really badly, or a sale that fell through?
The ability to be open to feedback is the number one indicator of effective leadership, even the challenging feedback. It is easy to be simply defensive of our position and viewpoint, but having your own business is not about being right. It’s about learning, doing your best work, finding your place of greatest impact, being creative and innovative and solving a problem for someone. The best way to do that is to fail, and ask yourself: what could I do differently next time to achieve a successful outcome?
Diagnostics are an effective prompt for this reflection – completing a survey and learning about how your results might have played out in your successes (and your failures) gives you a framework for the dialogue to take place, and to put together a plan for the future to ensure the learnings are being put into practice.
6. Who is my customer, and when did we last ask them what they wanted?
Almost every business is in business because they solve a problem for someone. You sell a service or a product because it’s valuable to your audience. Ask yourself:
- What is your customer challenged by?
- What do they value?
- What stops them from purchasing your product or service?
- What problem are we solving for this customer and for the world?
The marketplace is a constantly changing, movable feast. What you knew in 2017 will be different now. Try the following to keep a finger on the pulse of your customer or collaborators:
- Surveys: send out a survey regularly and as an integrated part of your customer service.
- Social media posts to measure engagement for an idea, product or service: social media is a great way to get instant, up to date feedback from your target market.
- Pulse checking with long term customers or collaborators: we all have trusted clients or colleagues who we have worked with for years – most will be happy to provide feedback. Ask them to be honest, and take on the feedback constructively. These long term clients have seen you on the unfolding journey, their opinions are valuable.
- Feedback and evaluation forms: Build feedback and evaluation opportunities into your business processes eg. as part of an invoicing process, or at the end of a service delivered.
- Desktop research : Do your research via the internet. Work out what your customers are needing and saying within your industry, and keep a breast of current trends.
Feedback is a gift. And there isn’t a more honest, more constructively critical feedback source than yourself.
Have the courage to ask yourself the hard questions. Be honest with yourself about your strengths, your challenges and the opportunities that lie within your responses, your emotions and reactions.
The entrepreneur with blind spots about their leadership style, their impact on others and their business is an opportunity to develop.
Craft is led by Melbourne based coach and consultant Ami Summers.
Ami has spent more than a decade as an accredited coach and leadership development consultant.
Clients that have worked with Ami consistently say she is a compassionate, wise and deeply pragmatic coach with a gift for empowering the individual or business owner to see they have the resources to transform themselves and the world around them.
She is accredited and experienced to deliver a number of diagnostic tools to help unlock an individual or teams capability and strengths.
Craft’s main focus is to deliver valuable business results whilst bringing out the best in an individual or business. We do this by sharing creative leadership tools that are typically only available to large corporates. We offer individual coaching, leadership development consulting services, group mentoring and small business coaching. Get in touch if we can help you bring more insight into your business.
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