Note to CEOs: don’t believe your own press
Recently I’ve been privileged to meet with several seasoned business professionals who are each about to launch new ventures that are likely to attract a lot of attention.
As I listened to a brief synopsis of their respective career successes and challenges and what they are currently working on, it struck me that irrespective of how far you progress or how great your success, a true entrepreneur must be willing to become the “new kid” each time they embark on a new endeavour.
And as much as many senior executives reading this will try to dismiss this, it is an unavoidable truth.
What separates the good leaders from the truly “great” ones who are able to build something from nothing, is not just their ability to accurately assess their own strengths and weaknesses but their ability to formulate an effective plan to get themselves up to speed in unfamiliar territory.
And herein lies the paradox that defeats the would-be leaders of so many business start-ups – to successfully launch and captain a new initiative you have to be willing to show your vulnerability when every instinct in the core of your being is urging you to hide this at all costs.
In other words, to “boldly go where no man or woman has gone before” you must recognise that the same skill set and business experience that got you to the doorstep of your new enterprise may also be what prevents you from successfully navigating the treacherous waters between pre-operational status and business profitability.
How can this be?
On the one hand it is your career history that gives you the confidence to embark on a new business venture but it can also be the same thing that leads you to believe myriad falsehoods: this start-up will be just like any other business venture; you are experienced now so the rules don’t really apply to you; having enough venture capital funding will solve all your problems; you are the best at what you do so everyone is going to want to jump on your bandwagon.
Ever heard the expression never believe your own press?
In this situation, I would submit that the only way to successfully transition from one business venture to the next is to find a way to break out of the safe, cosy little success bubble that your ego has constructed for you and attack your new opportunity with a fresh perspective.
A perspective that essentially says: “Hey, it might say chief executive officer on my business card but for the time being I’m just the new kid and I’m here to listen and learn.”
As absurd as this may sound, if you actually manage to place yourself in this position I guarantee you will hear and see some amazing things because by making yourself “the new kid” you create a world in which everyone else that you encounter literally knows more than you do and has the capacity to provide wisdom and insights that support what you are building. And believe me, your help can arrive in some very unexpected ways.
In time you will uncover your “go to” people for various tasks and strategic initiatives, and hire an elite team to help you achieve your goals. Because you gave them the opportunity to show you the true value that they bring to the table, they will be the ones who are able, and truly there to support your initiative, as opposed to the ones who looked good on paper or that your ego was comfortable with.
Robin Trimingham is the CEO of The Olderhood Group Ltd and a virtual presenter, journalist, podcaster and thought leader in the fields of life transition and change management. Connect with Robin at https://bit.ly/3nSMlvc or firstname.lastname@example.org