YOUR LEADERSHIP PHILOSOPHY
Once we understand the core of our business—our company culture—then we begin with ourselves, the Creative Entrepreneur. Our culture reflects how we show up within our business. Leadership is about how we relate to our business and those that make our business possible—employees, contractors, vendors, customers, and our audience.
You are not your business; understanding your relationship to it, establishing healthy boundaries, and facing your own areas of growth are necessary to experience the creative freedom and financial security you sought when you started. As poet, David Whyte said on On Being, "...that’s the definition of a corporation. It’s from “corpus,” Latin, meaning “a body.” It’s a group of people trying to do something you cannot do if you try to do it by yourself. That’s the only definition. That’s the simplest, core, radical simplicity at the center of every organization."
Most creative entrepreneurs are accidental leaders, meaning they have stepped into a role unaware of what it encompasses and how they will have to grow to meet the role's needs.
We often come from backgrounds where we haven’t been a leader, and leadership is a new skill set and character development we must embrace. We can often judge leadership when we’re starved for good examples, and we can understandably want to believe that people should be able to manage themselves. We can seek perfection in leaders and feel disappointment when it's not met, but every interaction is an opportunity for growth. We might resist our growth by claiming that our entrepreneurial endeavor will be democratic and everyone will have equal say. But ultimately, we are all seeking stable and clear leadership.
Leadership isn’t just about managing people; it’s about how we manage ourselves daily. It’s who we choose to be not only when things are going well but, most importantly, when we’re faced with perceived challenges and obstacles. Entrepreneurship is a marathon, and our personal growth will allow us to stay present in the day-to-day as we work towards building our vision.
Being good at managing ourselves and others begins with understanding our leadership philosophy. Just like company cultures, there’s a nuance to each creative entrepreneur's leadership style. Leadership is not one size fits all; it does not mean the same things to everyone. We often don’t take the time to define it for ourselves or others, creating unmet expectations, mixed signals, and generally feeling dissatisfaction and frustration from both entrepreneurs and employees. Knowing how you lead is the first step in ensuring the expectations you have for yourself and others will have the potential to be met.
One of my favorite books about leadership is Hanging the Mirror, The Discipline of Reflective Leadership. It is about, just as the title says, reflecting on yourself and how you impact your business and the people within it. As Rev angel Kyodo williams says, humans are complex and incomplete. We all come to leadership incomplete with our own complexities. It is our work to sift through that and to work towards wholeness, better known as integrity. Like culture, leadership is a dynamic process of growth, not a destination. It is not given by a title but earned by how you are experienced by others. Taking the time and defining our philosophy gives us a path forward for our own development as a leader as much as it gives our employees an understanding of how we might be experienced—as Brene Brown says, Clarity is Kind. We will need this path when faced with navigating our vision (more on that next week) and cultivating the endurance for the marathon that is entrepreneurship.