As an entrepreneur, I often feel like a “lone wolf”, working through my ideas and trying to bring them to life – first in my own mind, and then in the minds of others. There are so many ideas going through my mind, and seemingly so little time (for me, just one person) to execute. Most entrepreneurs that I have worked with and come to know relate to this lonely experience, and the associated challenges of working with others to bring our ideas to life. We are members of The Lone Wolf Club, no doubt. THAT is why we need a team – a Wolf Pack – to execute big and small projects alike. There also needs to be clarity on what we want to accomplish, as well as the domain authority to back it up, and leadership skills to give teams the proper guidance, space, inspiration, course corrections, feedback and acknowledgement that they need in order to pull together, and bring the entrepreneur’s vision, which has become the team’s collective goal, to fruition.
Regardless of how many good people you have working on a project, just like any team (consider a sports analogy), without proper leadership, things can fall apart quickly. As a mentor of mine and great leader in his own right – former CIO of Bankers’ Trust, Carmine Vona, once told me, “you have to be the mastermind“. These are such wise words, which I of course, understand now so much more so than when he first told me that 10+ years back.
So I ask myself now, and continuously self-reflect, on whether I give my various project teams positive Energy in the following ways:
- Inspiration (ie. “why we are doing this”; why the initiative is important)
- Guidance (ie. “how we will do this”; what each person needs to do)
- Team Dynamics (putting the right people together)
- Proper System & Tools (project plan; tech needed to get the job done)
- Space (freedom, flexibility)
- Feedback (and if necessary, course corrections – ie. “that’s not how I want it done; this is the way.”)
- Acknowledgment (ie. “good job! thank you for your great contribution on this.” or a good old fashion project success or completion bonus can also go a long way.)
It’s not as simple as “Yes” or “No” for each of these factors, and more of a rating, that can be revisited weekly (or even daily), upon major project milestones, quarterly and certainly on an annual basis. To gain some objectivity in the matter, seek feedback, not only from your team, but from an objective third party – a mentor like I have in Vona – preferably, someone who is more experienced than you, or at least a non-competitive peer on the same level as yourself. Setting some objective project success criteria can also help to evaluate how effective you were/are at leading your team(s). If you fall on your face, do not be discouraged or guilty – rather take the time out to truly learn from it, and make some changes to your approach for the next opportunity.
Remember lone wolf, although your ideation process and struggles at the top may leave you feeling somewhat isolated, you have to be a leader of the wolf pack when it comes to bringing your vision(s) to life. Inspire and engage those around you, so that your burden may be less, and the feeling of collective achievement more for everyone involved. All great endeavors – the stuff of legends, that we all dream about – no matter how solitary the visionary needs to be at times, eventually involve great teamwork in order to succeed.