Written by Tim Sernett, Accounting & Finance Advisor for SMBs | Owner at Financial Optics Inc | Entrepreneurship enthusiast | Dad | Sports nut | Tuition paymaster

As entrepreneurs, if we’re successful, leadership is a role we eventually have to take on, be it a leadership role with your team or with your clients. And I have a confession to make…

Embracing leadership doesn’t come naturally to me.

I’m much more comfortable hunkered down knocking out work and crossing off my never ending to-do list. Because I know this is an area I need to improve in, I’ve been paying a lot more attention to what leadership really is.

What I’ve discovered is that, after you break it down and understand what it means in different areas of your entrepreneurial life, it’s just not that scary. And I’ve found great relief in realizing that being a “quiet” leader as an entrepreneur is OK.

So whether it’s taking on a leadership role as the founder of your company or taking on a leadership role with your customers, I think the best measure of your success should focus on these three areas:

  • Provide direction
  • Increase capabilities
  • Provide confidence

As a professional services firm that offers intellectual capital and solutions to business problems, our customers look to us to provide direction, confidence and increased capabilities in all areas of small business finance and accounting.

As the founder of Virtual Bean Counters, it’s my job to provide those exact same things for my team.

  • To provide direction for the company in terms of the why we do what we do, whom we want to do it for, and how we do what we do.
  • To provide an environment that allows all team members to increase their capabilities and grow in their roles, whether through internal training or outside training and educational opportunities.
  • To provide confidence with a culture that emphasizes results over attendance, collaboration over controlling, action over the fear of failure, learning over the fear of making mistakes, and decisiveness over bureaucracy.

Finally, here are a few other thoughts on leadership I learned from my friend Jason Blumer, CPA, the founder of Thriveal:

  • Good leaders don’t hide from hard things. Leadership requires that you deal with difficult situations head on and move past them the best way you can. Leaders embrace problems as an opportunity to lead towards a solution.
  • Leaders move closer to people. This is a hard one for me but as the leader of my company I can’t simply focus on my daily to-do-list and my work. I have to make time for connecting with my team, clients, prospects, and networking connections. You have to ask yourself if you’re avoiding people because you want to avoid messy things. Again, true leaders don’t hide from messy things.
  • Leaders don’t beat themselves up over past mistakes. Doing so denies you the freedom to grow. Leading by example conveys the culture of confidence.

What about you? What thoughts or experiences would you be willing to share about leadership?

Happy New Year! Here’s to an awesome 2017!