In my experience as an entrepreneur, business owner and CEO, I’ve found that business leaders tend to be passionate people. The concerns of our work keep us up at night. For me, I’m always on the lookout for the “boogie man,” the unforeseen disruptive technology that’s coming to steal our business away. Or are we creating our own boogie men without even realizing it? It can be maddening, and there’s always more work to do.
For many of us, we turn to the experts, the bloggers, speakers, book-writers, consultants and more, hunting for the best practices to shape and steer our business. We hope that somewhere out there, someone has all the answers to our questions.
Here’s a secret for you: no one does.
Sure, there are plenty of successful people in the world, such as serial entrepreneurs or investors that can seemingly do no wrong. But no one finds success without tasting plenty of failure along the way. Every one of us has made our share of mistakes, which often simply means we zigged when we should’ve zagged. The question you have to ask yourself is this: did you zig by choice, or did you ignore your gut at the behest of someone else?
Leverage the Expertise of Others – But Make Your Own Way
Don’t think that the irony of blogging about ignoring bloggers is lost on me. In today’s social, content-driven digital world, there’s an immense wealth of valuable information being shared. For first-time entrepreneurs, industry-hoppers or even seasoned business veterans, utilizing this information and basing your company policies on what’s worked for others is by no means a bad thing. But you can’t lose sight of your own knowledge or your own passion.
Remember: no one knows your business as well as you do. All the consultants in the world can’t bring to bear the intimate knowledge of your company culture the way that you can, and how all the elements of your business—culture, industry, market, goals, etc.—come together. Smart leaders have to know when to leverage experts but also when to ignore them, relying instead on their own best judgment to steer their ship.
Ditch the Best Practices
You can’t afford to be so reliant on the best practices of others that you become pigeon-holed and can’t find your own way. The thing about best practices is that they’re best until they’re not. Think about how quickly things change in today’s technologically driven society; yesterday’s best practice is today’s nonstarter. Instead, focus on crafting Best-for-You practices or Best-for-Your Business practices, even if they fly in the face of today’s rules of thumb.
Innovative leadership can be a scary thing, and a lot of that fear comes from challenging the status quo and the looks you get by ignoring what works for everyone else. But to succeed means to always question. Follow your passions and trust your own expertise—no matter the opinion of the “experts”.