For most entrepreneurs who are using crowdsourcing as a mechanism for fundraising it is their first crack at running a company. For this section let’s adjust the tone to more of a ‘conversational’ flow. I find that when I broach the subject of leadership most start up founders get a glazed over look in their eyes. It’s not that they don’t care about the subject rather they are sick of being ‘talked at’ as opposed to being conversed with. So let’s converse.
Excellent leadership qualities do not come naturally to many, but those who do have them are usually very successful business people. Just because you know how to give instructions, that doesn’t make you a good leader. You have to be able to communicate with your staff, keep high morale within your company, commit to your team and business, have a good attitude and season all of the above with some great instinct.
Additionally, you should have a good sense of humor to add to the mix, and you should have plenty of self-assurance. Without the right combination, you may not be able to get through to your staff; and your business will suffer.
Be a Good Communicator
You may know what you want to tell your staff, but while you are explaining a thought process, some of your employees will look at you with a blank stare. That’s a problem. Your business cannot be effective if you cannot communicate your wishes to your staff. Furthermore, poor communication leads to bad morale and high staff turnover – at the least. You could have a low staff turnover, but lose customers because an unhappy staff projects its low morale to customers and potential investors. Once a customer receives poor treatment or comes to the conclusion that the employees are not happy, that customer, donor or investor may not return.
Serious ‘whale’ donors may not return if he or she thinks you are treating your employees roughly, simply because they don’t not want to support someone who does not respect and trust his or her staff and employees.
If you do get blank stares or notice that employees can’t seem to do anything right, the issue may be with your communication skills. To run a successful business, you must be able to succinctly and clearly describe your needs. When you are able to do this, you and your staff will be able to work toward the same goal – you will be able to work as a team.
When your communication skills are top notch, you should be able to easily train your team to be productive and friendly. To help with communication, you should have an open door policy and be available to staff throughout the day. Holding a daily meeting – either in the morning or just before everyone goes home – to discuss any issues also leads to better communication. Your staff needs to know that it can go to you with problems that they cannot handle on their own. The staff also needs to know that you are confident enough to sort the problems out in an effective manner.
Once your staff believes they can trust you to lead them in the right direction and that you are adept at handling whatever comes your way, they will be more apt to work harder and to work as a well-oiled machine.
Have a Sense of Humor
When the flow of your day is interrupted with catastrophe are you responsive or reactionary? Do you blurt out incoherent emotional rants or do you step back, take a breath and tactfully respond? It’s easy to get caught up in the stresses of your crowdfunding campaigns and often times it may feel as though you are shouldering the brunt of the stress and it’s during these stressful times it’s crucial to inject humor into your conversations to keep things light.
If something happens that is beyond the control of you or your staff member, such as a web site crash or a lost donor due to circumstances beyond your control, treat the situation with a little levity and a sense of humor. I’m not saying to act like you don’t care, to the contrary this is a time to prove your leadership capabilities by stepping back, demonstrating fluency in your problem solving skills and once the problem is solved have a witty remark to add an extra wow factor to those in your presence who are starting to hero worship you. Remember the ancients admired and respected a general not exclusively for winning a battle, rather optimal respect from one’s peers came to those who excelled at winning with ease.
You are embarking on a journey that will test you mentally, spiritually, intellectually and in many ways even physically. You’ll have people poke holes in your concept and your facilitation strategy and when this happens my friend you must remain steadfast in your self-assurance. One may think that demonstrating a self-assured persona is restricted to your verbal response to criticism. Being self-assured includes maintaining a positive inner and outer perception of yourself and the path you’ve chosen. There are many ‘tells’ when it comes to nonverbally communicating this mentality. When you are tested by a critic and they are poking holes in your business model consider the following: What is your physical posture? What is your intonation during your response? Monitor your breathing. Are you taking long, slow relaxed breaths is your breathing shallow? What are the micro expressions on your face? Keep your forehead and cheeks smooth and your eyes from a ‘winced’ look. Your physical positioning triggers your mental thought process and emotional reality. Change your body’s position and this will transform your reality.
When you’re being tested and you feel your confidence beginning to suffer take note of your facial expression, your shoulders, your back, your full body position. Now stop, take note, this is the position of a lackluster individual who in time will give up. Visualize your ideal self. What is your posture? What is the position of your arms, shoulders, neck etc.? What are the expressions on your face? You need to truly examine then physically feel that ideal self and when the feeling is optimally potent step into that ideal self like a new suit. This is the real you.
In every way be calm and focused. Concentrate but don’t overthink. Be open to truly constructive criticism and let the rest just flow past you like leaves blowing in the wind. They exist but you choose not to focus your vibrations on them therefore they will not manifest into your reality. Always remember, our country and the global economy depends on people with vision. You are a one percenter! You are actually doing what others dream about. You have chosen the distinct path of making your dream a reality and it takes guts to do what you’re doing.
Making a Commitment
Emerson said, ‘A man is what he thinks about all day long’. It is absolutely paramount that you meditate and visualize the fruition of your crowdfunding initiative. Succeeding in business comes down to a decision. This decision is to succeed no matter what. When you are tested in fires of hopelessness and loneliness and tortured at night by the prison of your mind it is important to realize that this is your opportunity to grow. Remember, a diamond is the end result of millions of years of unrelenting pressure.
Stay committed to the endgame. When your faith and commitment are tested think back to the contributing factors that led you to take this journey. Remember all the benefits to you, your tribe and those who work for you. In fact this is the perfect time to make some encouraging notes as to maintaining the vision and call a meeting with your staff so that they are reminded of the cause you are all working toward. Also, take all this powerful and inspiring emotion and post to your blog and send the links out via Tweets and Facebook. Why not capture this moment of realization on video and post it to your YouTube channel so that your tribe can experience the same concentrated commitment. You’ll be surprised of the positive energy that begins to surge around you and your crowdfunding project with moments like this.
Have an Optimistic Attitude
At times the outlook may seem grim but it’s important to stay centered when this happens. Churchill said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Show me a person who instinctively gravitates to the negative in every situation and I’ll show you an underachieving, overly dependent stain on our society. Remember, by embarking on this entrepreneurial path whether it’s a film project, raising money for a friend’s surgery or bringing on investors for a new widget you have put action to your vision. 99% of people sit and watch the world go by without a speck of ambition.
Listen, you’ve already completed the most difficult part. You’ve taken the initiative to put action to your vision now just stay focused and keep one foot perpetually stepping in front of the other. Motion is everything, Keep Moving! When you feel discouraged consider this. I was once talking to a Navy Seal and I asked him, “How did you make it through hell week with almost no food, no sleep and all that stress?” His response was so simple that I still get chills when I think about it. He said, “When I felt any negative thought coming into my head I would stop it by looking at my watch which had the time and date and replace anything that I was thinking with, It is 4:53 and 43 seconds on March 10th 1995, or whatever the time and date was.” Are you floored?
When you are hit with an onslaught of negativity and it starts to become overwhelming just stop thinking. Close your mind to everything except the immediate and exact present down to the split second. When the poop hits the fan and your staff is looking at you for answers and someone nervously asks, “So boss, what do are you thinking?” If you are at a loss for words and want to keep from adding more energy to a negative event just respond, “What do I think? I think it’s 1:23 and 33 seconds PM on Monday, January 10th 2014”. This response will surely break things up and the reality that 90% of the things we worry about never actually happen anywhere but in our imagination.
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