I run a ten-person company. My company is profitable and has continued to provide a good livelihood for myself and my family for more than two decades.
You can call me a small business owner.
But please, don’t call me a leader.
I’m not a leader because I’m not very good with people. I can be outgoing when needed. But in reality, I’m an introvert. I prefer to be in front of my computer screen. Or reading a book or watching TV. I’d rather have lunch by myself and my newspaper than with others.
Leaders are people-persons.
They enjoy being around others. They thrive on relationships. They surround themselves with teams of advisers and are always looking for others to complement their efforts. They have people with them all the time. They know that to achieve their goals they need the help of others. And they embrace this.
These are qualities that I don’t have.
I’m not a leader because I don’t have a mission. I don’t believe that my company, a technology services firm, is changing the world. I don’t believe that what we’re doing is anything that special or earth-shattering. Sure, we provide a valuable service. But get over it – it’s not exciting stuff.
We implement customer relationship management systems. We train people. We customize software. There are many other companies like us. And there will be many others long after we’re gone. My people are happy doing this, but no one feels that what we’re doing is that important. And that’s because I don’t make it seem important. Leaders do. They make everyone feel important and that they’re part of something bigger than themselves. They have goals, missions and objectives that not only give credence to their businesses but meaning to people’s lives. My aspirations are not that lofty. I just want to provide a good service and put some money in the bank.
I’m not a leader because I lack confidence.
I’ve been running my business for more than 20 years and half the time I still don’t think I know what I’m doing. We still have failed projects, unhappy clients, unprofitable jobs and miscommunications. I keep making the same mistakes over and over. I still get angry when I lose a sale and emotional when a client doesn’t pay. I look at my backlog and, as always, I have no idea if there will be any work for my company after the next 120 days and that terrifies me. I’m still a horrible judge of character and an awful negotiator. Everyone seems to know more than me and have greater self-confidence. Maybe they’re just really good fakers. Or maybe I’m just a lousy leader because I not only lack the self-confidence to lead, but I’m bad at hiding it.
Finally, I’m not a leader because I don’t aspire to be. Great leaders are always looking to grow, be better, achieve greater things and personally develop into broader human beings. Me? I just want to have a beer and watch Game of Thrones. I don’t seek personal improvement. I don’t desire to become any more of an expert than I already am. I don’t go on retreats, outward-bound adventures or team building excursions. I don’t read Machiavelli or even Tony Robbins. I don’t have any desire to manage an army of people, crush my competition or take over the universe.
I’m quite happy running a little tech firm near Philly, playing softball on Sundays and sitting on a park bench with my wife like the old couple we seem to be. I like this. I’m happy with my lot in life. I have little desire to change it. Leaders are always looking to get ahead, change things, move to the next level.
Once I get comfy on the sofa, I’m barely able to move at all.
So yeah, I’m not much of a leader. I’m just a business owner. What about you?
Join writer and small business owner Gene Marks each Wednesday on the Small Biz Ahead podcast. You can submit a question for Gene to answer on the podcast.