As a small business owner, your identity and role as the leader of your business are mingled. This can cause some confusion and have a damaging effect on decision making, delegation, and even the overall sustainability of your organization (and yourself). Maintaining a clear separation of the two can go a long way as you grow your business.
Let’s look at two scenarios: Person A has clearly differentiated their role as a business leader and their identity. Person B has not.
Person A receives a good amount of information everyday that helps them with both their short-term and long-term decisions. They take their own capacity and the capacity of their staff in mind when deciding how to move forward and how to find the best possible outcome for their business.
Person B has fallen into the trap of validating themselves based on what they get done in a day. They refuse to hand off tasks, no matter how small, because “no one else can do as good of a job as they can.” Their business is who they are and everything depends on them.
It’s pretty clear to see that Person B is not in a good place. Not only are they likely to burn out quickly, they’ve also created a negative situation and culture for their organization.
When I work with leaders who are intentionally trying to build capacity for resiliency, we spend a lot of time looking at roles and identities. We all have at least a little bit of Person B in us. Our business can be “our baby” or “our life’s mission.” However, if your leadership style has you working at the far end of your capacity, it can be incredibly easy to fall into that all consuming trap of validation and exhaustion. Putting out those daily fires can feel exhilarating in the moment, but it’s not sustainable in the long run.
But I have good news! You can always gain clarity and separate your role and your identity. Here are a few questions that I ask leaders in order to get them to reassess their perceptions:
- What does success mean to you?
- What does success mean for your organization?
- Have you set any boundaries lately?
- Are you self-sacrificing and giving more than you can on a regular basis?
We all have our passions that led us to create and lead the organizations we love so much. It’s important to make sure that you invest the time to keep yourself and your business in a supportive, healthy place.
What fires have you been putting out recently? Are these problems actually a symptom of a larger pattern?