Last week I had lunch with a friend who runs a small financial planning business. He was in a bad way. Business debt, employee turnover, marriage pains, and not surprisingly – health issues and stressed. Most of this was not new but had been progressively getting worse. He hated the work of financial planning; and having to sell it to others. But he’d stayed doing it because he had a strong reputation in the industry and didn’t think he had a viable alternative. He’s passion was as an artist not a financial planner and he did believe that the work he and his team were doing was meaningful.
As a business leader, you need to be passionately committed to your job and your business. Unless you are motivated by this passion, you will not be able to sustainably inspire yourself, let alone your clients and employees. That is why, as the highest priority, I am asking you to take stock of yourself – of your motivators, your values, and your passions. Let’s look at a few ways to do this.
1. What is your passion?
You need to understand your passion to understand your purpose. To do this, consider the following questions:
- What truly drives you as a person?
- What is important to you?
- What are your personal values?
- What really gets your blood boiling?
- What would you like your legacy to be?
- Why are you a leader? Why not some other position?
Answering these questions honestly will help you understand the real reasons you do what you do. By better understanding your passion—your ultimate motivator—you will be well placed to lead and grow a business that is in sync with your authentic self.
2. Job satisfaction
When your work and your passion are in sync, the result is a high degree of job satisfaction. Still, it is unlikely that you enjoy all your duties equally. When you perform some tasks, your job satisfaction levels will be much higher than when you perform others. You need to consider each of the tasks you perform according to the following two questions:
- What are you good at – your strengths/talents?
- What do you like to do – what you enjoy and/or are passionate about?
Each task will fall into one of four categories based on your strengths and enjoyment:
- Good at but don’t like to do
- Good at and like to do
- Not good at and don’t like to do
- Not good at but like to do
Ultimately, you will perform at peak levels when the majority of your tasks fit into quadrant two. That is, when you are doing a job you love and that you are awesome at.
3. Know your limitations
Great leaders understand their strengths and how to leverage them, but the best leaders are also aware of their limitations. These might not be able to be leveraged in the same way that strengths can, but the humility that comes with an honest reckoning of one’s shortcomings can be turned into a powerful leadership tool. Take stock of your limitations by asking the following questions:
- Which of your tasks do you find most difficult to complete?
- How do you behave when under stress?
- Do you really listen and understand what people are telling you?
- Do you have strong communication skills?
- Are you an efficient delegator?
- Do you procrastinate more than you should?
- Do you have solid financial management skills?
- Are you good at ensuring that structures, processes and policies exist for systemising and growing the business?
Hint: ask a few of your trusted employees to answer these questions for you.
Once you understand your limitations, act upon this information. Target some areas for delegation, some for improvement, and others for self-development work.
4. Your intersection
Once you understand what drives you, what your strengths and weaknesses are you’ll be able to take a closer look at your intersection – something you’ll need to find if you are going to be successful as a business leader. Your intersection is where your passion, your talents and your opportunities intersect. Take Steve Jobs for example. At the end of the speech he gave on the day he introduced the iPad to the public, he mused on the secret of Apple’s success: “It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough. Its technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields the results that make our hearts sing.” Apple has been able to bring intuitive products to market that enrich our lives in ways that makes them almost immediately indispensable. Pixar being perhaps the most notable example.
By finding your own intersection where your passions, talents and opportunities intersect, you’ll be able to inspire your customers and those you lead. You will be inspired and energised by your work – and build an amazing business.
Author: Claire Harrison, Managing Director of Harrison Human Resources and Author of The CEO Secret Guide to Managing and Motivating Employees. For more information on leadership please go to Claire’s website: www.hhr.com.au.