Whenever I meet with a small business owner for the first time, I always ask them the same question. What is your strategy for future growth? Their answer tells me a number of things. First, it tells me if they have one. Second, it tells me whether they are trying to build an empire or a business.
If the leader talks about where he sees himself as this business grows – empire. If the leader talks about how he sees the business growing including plans for employees and expansion – business.
This is an important distinction.
If the leader is focused on building this business solely for his own personal gain then their decisions will be focused around that goal. They will make moves that get them closer to where they want to see themselves. Sometimes these moves will come at the expense of others. While this leader may be a brilliant business mind and may actually have the ability to grow a successful business, because they are focused on their empire, the road to get there could be rocky and not fun for anyone else involved.
On the other hand, the leader who is focused on business growth with or without personal gain is looking for ways in which everyone wins while the business grows. This individual is going to hire employees who not only help move the business forward, but who they can help grow as well. This individual may even take personal losses in order to grow the business because they believe in it so much.
It’s probably pretty easy to figure out which one you want to work with.
When I’ve had this conversation with other leaders before they assume I am focusing on ego here. There are very successful leaders with huge egos. This is more about intent, drive and focus. Is it on them or the business?
Have you worked with someone just looking to build an empire? What worked or didn’t work about their leadership style? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.