Many of us aspire to big roles at work — we want to be the boss. Of course, once we get there, it’s not always as glamourous, or as easy, as we had imagined it would be. That’s especially true for entrepreneurs.
The secret to excelling at being in charge are subtle, but important. It’s a topic several LinkedIn Influencers weighed in on this week.
Here’s what two of them had to say about what it takes to be an entrepreneur and the head honcho.
Richard Branson, founder at Virgin Group
“I’m often asked, ‘What does it take to be the boss?’ It’s a hard question to answer,” wrote Branson in his post What Does it Take to Be the Boss? Managers Versus Leaders. “In my opinion, there are two types of bosses: managers and leaders.”
A leader’s role, he wrote, is to work with people “to change the lives of others for the better”. Management, on the other hand, is “about maintaining processes, disciplines and systems. Where managers keep the rules, leaders have to be willing to break them, or at least find creative ways around them”, Branson wrote.
Both are important in business and to being a boss, but “it’s critical that you possess leadership qualities”, especially if you want to go into business for yourself, he wrote. The key, he wrote, is to have both types of people in a company for the best chances of success. “The business world needs both managers and leaders to fill the role of the boss,” Branson wrote.
“When you believe in something, the force of your convictions will spark the interest of others — helping you recruit people that share your vision and are motivated to help you achieve success,” Branson wrote. “And passion is not only just a handy recruitment skill; it will also help you strike up meaningful relationships and partnerships with other entrepreneurs and business people. Many of these… will likely be great managers who can help your business grow.”
Ron Shaich, founder, chairman and chief executive at Panera Bread
“Say the word ‘boss’ and most people imagine a well-heeled executive, jetting between meetings and bellowing directives that a faithful group of employees dutifully carry out,” wrote Shaich in his post Want to be the Boss? Better Know Exactly What it Means. “Not exactly.”
“To me, being the boss… has meant solitary hours contemplating challenges,” he wrote. “It’s meant sleepless nights weighing options before making hard decisions that no one else wants to make and knowing that their success or failure is ultimately my responsibility. It’s meant sweating the details.”
Shaich offers what he calls “the harder truths about calling the shot”. Among them:
“Usually, the business owns you; you don’t own it,” he wrote. “Building a business is all-consuming — as in, it consumes all of your waking hours and many of the ones you should be sleeping. It’s with you in the car, the shower and on vacation. Most people who build businesses can neither turn off nor throttle down their commitment to their pursuit.
“You’ll have many opportunities to make decisions because a boss’s challenges are never-ending.
“As long as that business is your responsibility, you will need to think long term. You will need to innovate, iterate and improve.
“Ironically, if you are successful, you will not be beholden to fewer constituencies; you will be beholden to more.”
If it sounds daunting, Shaich wrote, it’s still something he’d never trade for something easier.
“While being the boss can feel at times like a long and lonely journey, there is a payoff — and it’s not power or money,” he wrote. “For me, it’s the joy of solving problems no one else can. It’s seeing opportunities others miss and developing strategies others can’t imagine. It’s building a venture from the ground up.
“Being the boss is infinitely rewarding when you truly understand what you are working toward.”