Rachel Hannan, Chair of Real World Group offers five tips for leaders on achieving the mindset to cultivate, based on what she’s learned from her own journey growing businesses and investing in and working with others.
Most businesses hit a wall at some point on their journey. Whether it’s an unexpected event, or a barrier that develops over time, what differentiates the businesses that break through from those that fail is often the mindset of the business leader – and how this is mirrored by others.
There are many reasons businesses hit a brick wall, but one common element is the psychological impact this can have. While many business leaders thrive on pressure and are highly resilient, it is difficult to entirely escape the emotional cost of a business in trouble. Sometimes it is our own psychology that leads to the issues. Lack of confidence in taking the next step, or over confidence in pushing too far too fast can both be equally destructive, and running a business can be a lonely place, especially when times are tough. To avoid developing a ‘siege mentality’ where we feel isolated, defensive and vulnerable, it’s useful to embrace a trusted support network. People who understand the business enough to be a useful sounding board and provide insight and ideas, but also independent enough to be objective and offer a ‘safe ear’. Whether this is a Non-Executive Director, a mentor, or other business owners in your networks, having the opportunity to get an external perspective on the issue, your response and proposed solutions can be invaluable
As can the ability to turn your attention objectively on your own strengths and, yes, potentially gaps. The skills, experience and attributes that helped you deliver successful growth in the first few years may not alone be enough to fulfil your business’s full potential to scale. Identifying and acknowledging where your gaps are – and what and who you need to fill them is a sometimes painful, but always worthwhile exercise. Having a mindset that means you are willing to analyse what led to the barriers your business is facing, and whether your own approach has contributed, can be a key turning point. Are you a strategist or a skilful tactician? Are you comfortable with competing priorities and complexity, or a passionate and driven business champion? Can you delegate and empower to build capacity, or do you prefer to retain decision making and control?
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