VC Cliche of the Week

This one’s not really a cliche, but the "king of the cliche", Bliss McCrum, used to say it all the time and I love it and am going to use it anyway.

Bliss, who had a large family, used to say that leadership is figuring out where everyone is going and then getting in front of them and saying "follow me".

Whenever I heard that, I’d think of Bliss and all of his kids and him running to the front of the line. It’s a great visual for me.

Leadership isn’t always about figuring out where to take your company.  Many times, the company knows where to go better than you do. 

So you have to listen to the company, and the other stakeholders; the customers, the board, the shareholders, etc and make sure that you always know where they want to go.  Then get in front and lead the way.  It’s that last part that is so important.

Large groups of people need to be led. Even if they all want to go to the same place, they need someone to lead them there.  And a big "follow me" is the best way to get them moving and moving fast.

I have seen CEOs in the past half heartedly accept a strategic move because its what the senior team wants to do or the board wants to do.  But they never really get in front and show the enthusiasm to go in that direction.  Most of those CEOs have failed and brought their companies down with them.

So what do you do when everyone wants to go to a place you don’t want to go?  I think the best thing is to resign and move on to an opportunity that you can get your head around.

The bottom line is that when you are in the top job, you need to be enthusiastic about everything you do.  If you can’t be, you won’t be effective.  That’s the truth about leadership.