From good to great: 4 strategies how founders and leaders amplify their impact and wellbeing
This article was written by Ansis Lipenitis, CEO of .Cocoon.
As an idealist, I envision how founders and leaders can improve our world. As a realist, I know life is not black and white. Yet each decision and action leads somewhere – to a slightly better or worse place.
Why even think about it?
We tend to repeat our patterns of thought and action. Plus, each person affects many others. If you impact 10 people who impact 10 people who impact 10 people, you impact at least 1000 people daily.
So our effect compounds.
With time, it creates the sum effect, a better or worse world than before. The "world" here has three dimensions – our inner world, the surrounding world (company, family, community) and the larger world.
We'll explore 4 strategies for making choices that benefit yourself and those around you.
Founder and leader
First, let's clarify the difference between founders and leaders.
For a founder without a leading role, it's probable to prioritize other areas than expressed here.
Leaders, in turn, are responsible for guiding their teams towards a better future according to their personal beliefs. And to start with themselves by leading by example.
Imagine the possible impact if leaders were to adopt the approach described further.
1. Be selfish
A selfish person takes care of himself first to care for others well. Selfish leaders first build themselves up to be able to build up the team and the business.
(In comparison, a self-centered person thinks only of himself. Selfless – only about others).
Taking care of yourself first allows you to better care for others, make better decisions, and set an example for your team. An exhausted, underpaid and overwhelmed CEO can't do it.
This means investing time in rest and reflection, connecting with loved ones, and prioritizing self-development and physical well-being. Also, paying yourself a decent salary that provides for your needs and dreams.
2. Don't compromise
Compromise – giving away something valuable in exchange for someone's approval.
While compromises may seem like a quick fix, they can often make you feel worse and can lead the company to down round and you to burning out.
Here are a few examples of compromises:
Hiring too early. Giving away runway months to get approval from investors and the crowd.
Paying an identical salary to all co-founders, although the CEO has more responsibility. The CEO gives away financial well-being to get the approval of co-founders.
Instead, focus on decisions that will benefit yourself and your team, and avoid giving away something valuable simply for approval.
While making decisions, you can self-check the following:
a) Will I get something valuable for me? Yes = clear win;
b) Am I giving away something valuable but receiving something more valuable for me?
Yes = good win;
3. Build for the purpose
When building a business, consider the purpose behind your work. While financial gains and intellectual curiosity are important motivators, a sense of purpose can be the driving force behind genuinely impactful work.
Lack of purposefulness can manifest in a variety of ways, for example:
The desire to build, scale, and exit a business to do something else afterwards which feels more meaningful. In this case, one could consider pivoting to doing that more appealing thing sooner than later.
A growing reluctance to work.
A gradual loss of energy, where the body begins to shut down. This can signal that one's work is not fulfilling and that a change is needed.
Imagine two different types of restaurants:
The first is run by a passionate owner who cherishes the fine dining experience, enjoys interacting with customers, and motivates his kitchen staff.
The second is part of a chain, offering a standard menu with no personal touch.
If the whole world was one of the two restaurants – which would we like to be in as a client or team member?
The feeling of purposefulness is unique to each individual. No one else can tell you what is purposeful for you.
To help you explore this area, consider asking the following questions:
Your business somehow changes your clients' lives, even if only slightly. Do you know your end users and how you affect their lives for good?
Do you care? Do you feel this is important?
If not, what else do you care about? You might feel a connection with other causes, so consider how to integrate these into your work and find a greater sense of purpose.
4. Be real
Creating a culture of authenticity starts with being real yourself. This means
- Avoiding pretence and striving for alignment between your thoughts, feelings, words, and actions.
- Sharing your emotions honestly with others.
- Accepting the consequences of your words and actions.
- Acknowledging and accepting your limitations and those of your team members.
- Replacing complaints with acceptance or respectful confrontation.
Part of being real also encourages us to take full responsibility for our emotions and let go of past guilt or resentment. Also, to share warmth and authentic friendliness with others.
When you are being real, you can focus on building a company where you would love to work as an employee. Consider the implications of this perspective.
When we grow, our impact grows
When you find yourself at a crossroads, it can be helpful to take a moment to reflect on how your decisions align with the values discussed here:
Building with purpose
And being real.
Our daily decisions have an impact. By consciously choosing a path that aligns with these values, we can create a better world for ourselves and those around us.
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Ansis Farhad Lipenitis is the CEO of .Cocoon and supports people to see more of the complete picture and think clearer.
.Cocoon is a comprehensive self-development program and supportive community tailored for CEOs and executives of 0.5M+ ARR companies. .Cocoon empowers CEOs and executives to make better decisions and lead their teams to make a positive impact. More than 200 leaders have grown with .Cocoon.