Learning to lead – 10 of 20 tips

"Leadership is about making things possible, management is about making them happen."This neat quote comes from Lord Karan Bilimoria who founded Cobra Beer, a drink which interestingly, was born and raised in Britain.


For the start-up entrepreneur the distinction between manager and leader is, of course, unrealistic; we're expected to cover all bases in the early stages. And nor is leadership just for leaders - those qualities can and should be displayed in both our personal and professional lives.  


Below are 10 of 20 tips about leadership gleaned from a two-day session on the Lloyds Bank School for Social Entrepreneurs Programme at the Eastern Enterprise Hub in Ipswich:


  1.  The lone entrepreneur will very quickly start talking about 'we' (even when it is just you!) This is not just about pretending the set-up is more than it is; it's probably a subconscious reference to the many hats being worn. 
  2. If you have no track record in business, you may need to establish your credentials through past connections and roles - assuming you have some that are genuine and relevant.
  3. When setting out, learn to listen (and shut up for 80% of the time you're meeting people). If you're looking for advice, give people a chance to volunteer their ideas and insights; resist the temptation to over-egg your pitch.
  4. Invite feedback on what's wrong with your ideas. Welcome 'but what if..?' 'what about..?' and 'have you thought about...?' type questions.
  5. Supporters need reassurance that you know what you're doing, before they invest their time and/or money. This means being upfront in your presentations about potential risks and how you plan to address them.
  6. 6.     To quote the late Michael Young [a serial entrepreneur behind a vast number of institutions and charities including the School for Social Entrepreneurs and the Open University]"social entrepreneurs should be high-minded and hard-headed".
  7. 7.     You don't need to ask permission to start your enterprise - just do it - and don't give up too soon. If it's not working as planned, you may simply need to change tack.
  8. 8.     Always go into a meeting with your personal objectives - what you want to achieve by the time you leave.
  9. There are [at least] three types of objectives: those that are main; stretch objectives which are effectively your wish-list; fall back objectives - what you'll settle for as a minimum.
  10. Get people on board by helping them solve their problems by helping you as well. WIIFM (what's in it for me) is a great motivator. Trust is another important element in any relationship.

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