In this article, Jordan Brompton, co-founder and CMO of myenergi, explains why inspiring leadership is key to creating a successful brand, sharing her learnings and insight from building myenergi from the ground up.
When it comes to starting your own business, leadership is likely to be way down your priority list. Before even thinking about being an inspirational leader, you’ll need a disruptive idea, a clear USP, a realistic route to market, funding to bring your dream to life, a handle on legal requirements, an understanding of marketing, a clear strategic plan and, most of all, an extensive support network.
If you can nail all that, you’ll probably want to start thinking about developing a high performing team. It’s likely, however, that this will remain somewhat of a pipedream while you’re battling through the ups and downs of even getting your idea off the ground. I know it was for me when I co-founded myenergi – and rightly so. We’d started the business on gut feel alone and those early stages were some of the most challenging months of my life.
However, as you grow, developing, leading and managing a team starts to become more and more important. Many entrepreneurs burn out at this point by trying to micromanage every element of their business, attempting to keep control and tripping over in result. More successful entrepreneurs, on the other hand, develop the self-reflection and maturity early on to understand their weaknesses and reach out to others who can fill those gaps.
By building a high-performing team around you that can tackle the elements together, growth and progress become second nature. It’s not a ‘hidden secret to success’, it’s just good business sense – standing on the shoulders of giants will help you to thrive.
It’s then just a case of being the visionary leader that they expect, right? But what really is good leadership? Are entrepreneurs naturally programmed for it? What’s more, can you simply become a good leader, or is it about more than just reading books and learning from others?
The beating heart of a successful brand
Good leadership is about having the ability to inspire and motivate others. Without good leadership, your business will lack motivation – without motivation, you’re likely to stand still. Think about some of the most successful brands you know – they all have inspiring leaders driving the business forward and connecting with customers.
A good leader needs to develop a set of skills to be the driving force in the business. From communication and inspiration, to being adept at making difficult decisions, providing guidance and creating a positive work environment, running a business quickly becomes more about building a team around you than the actual ‘big idea’ you first had.
Good leaders have a clear vision about what they want to achieve. They can communicate this very clearly to their team and they practically live this mentality in everything they do.
A good leader understands the needs of their team and can connect with them on a personal level. They appreciate that everyone is different and that motivation comes from a variety of sources.
Good leaders can see the big picture and don’t necessarily ‘sweat the small stuff’. My mantra of worrying about it when it happens has kept me on track through myenergi’s journey.
A good leader has the confidence to make an informed decision, weighing up the strengths and weaknesses, as well as the wider impact – both for the business and for the team. It’s important to remember that these decisions won’t always be right. You’ll make mistakes. That has to be expected.
A business is nothing if your team don’t trust you or believe in what you’re trying to achieve. A good leader therefore acts with honesty, integrity and transparency. Remember, trust is earnt, not given.
Most importantly of all, a good leader can adapt to the situation in front of them. In my experience, business is a series of curve balls and obstacles. You need to think on your feet and be prepared to adapt to unexpected situations.
Putting learning into practice
Words, skills and strengths on a piece of paper are great, but how do you actually become a good leader? How do you rally a team behind you? How do you maximise retention? How do you prevent disengagement and how do you inspire your team?
In my experience, I’ve found that being true to yourself and not over-engineering the idea of a good leader is the best approach. Teams aren’t expecting perfection – they want guidance from a real person, who really believes in what they’re trying to achieve and really cares about making a difference. They want to join you on your journey and be part of something special. They have the opportunity to go anywhere and work with anyone, so the fact they chose you speaks volumes.
Throughout my journey, I’ve tried to be a good leader by not overthinking things and instead just being the leader that I’d want to work for myself. I’m completely honest and transparent, through the good times and through the bad. I have a clear vision for the future and I’m relentlessly positive about getting there. I’m naturally empathetic and believe in each and every member of my team – both professionally and personally.
But I’m not the perfect leader. Not by a long stretch. I make mistakes and I take things to heart. I forget best practice and I kick myself about it. However, rather than letting it get you down, it’s important to remember that no-one’s the perfect leader, or the perfect entrepreneur, or the perfect business owner. We’re all people. We’re all imperfect and we’re all learning.
This is the kicker. Being a good leader is really about showing your weaknesses and being genuine. This makes you relatable, it makes you humble and it keeps your feet firmly on the ground. This is what your team need – an inspirational leader, not an aspirational leader. It’s true that leadership is key to creating a successful brand, but maybe you’re already far more inspiring than you may think.