This is the third of four posts by Jonathan Terrell, President of KCIC, drawn from his essay “Entrepreneurship As The Privilege of Creating Community.”
When I found myself, the accidental entrepreneur, as a business leader, I had some strange ideas about the kind of man I needed to grow into: bold and fearless, a kind of a Tarzan figure. It has taken me years to learn that not only is that unnecessary for leadership, but that most successful entrepreneurs that I know are not like that at all.
There are two constituencies on which a business leader must focus — an internal one, as I have just described, and an external one: clients, strategic partners, and industry leaders.
While I treat that internal constituency as my family, I treat the external one as my friends. A surprising number of entrepreneurs are actually like me – strong introverts. My wife leaves a party exhilarated and hungry for more. I leave exhausted. I will never be an entertainer, and I am not particularly entertaining. But I can approach my external constituency from a place that is genuine and heartfelt for me. And guess what? That seems to work just fine. I take an interest in the lives of my clients, do my best to share their joys and sorrows – keep an eye out for their interests and what they might find interesting. I try, as much as possible, to do what I say I am going to do, even in the smallest things. I never break a confidence.
In other words, I treat them like friends, because they are my friends. And in my own way, although I can’t discuss college football or popular culture with any degree of fluency, I am convinced that being myself results in genuine relations based on being both liked and trusted.
Click here to read the previous post in this series.