Leadership Skills - Compete or Complete
The drive within an entrepreneur provides the high octane fuel necessary to move mountains.  Drive makes an unbelievable idea plausible, possible, and finally, doable.   However, this powerful inner drive may become a hindrance when it is time to lead and manage the people who will accomplish the dream.  One of the tendencies of entrepreneurs is to show their vocational muscle - their capability.  Super capability is an effective tool when it comes to motivating people to believe in their leader or manager, invest in them,  and to trust in their ability to accomplish a difficult task.  But after the initial inspiration has been accomplished, showing vocational muscle often loses it's motivational aspect and begins to become competitive.  

Showing employees how great you are, how talented you are, how you can work circles around them with near perfect results makes people fear performing in front of you because you are so capable - even perfect at performing the task the employee was hired to do.  Instead of empowering people, you may be making them feel inferior.  

The year I graduated from high school, I auditioned for a chair in the baritone horn section for a national organization, won the prestigious first chair in the section and went on to perform at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and then in nine countries in Europe.  When I returned to pursue my music degree in college, I took lessons from a master who spent every lesson showing me how deficient I was and how perfect he was.  Instead of inspiring me, he deflated me.  Eventually, I laid down my horn, changed my major and only occasionally pick up a horn to prove to someone that I really do know how to play.  Instead of breaking each of my well developed wrong practices down and then rebuilding each skill, he left me in the dust of his perfection.  I look back and realize that although I let a pompous show off rob me of one great enjoyment, I will never forget what it feels like to be dwarfed with overpowering perfection.    

Consider how many runners there are in the world.  Out of them how many would consider qualifying for the Olympics?  Out of them how many would actually qualify for the Olympics?  Out of them how many would plan to win a metal?  And lastly, out of them, how many would plan to set a world record?  Not many people have the drive and the heart to compete at this level.  My best guess is that none of us have many employees who could function well at this level of competition.  Most people need much encouragement to enter our game, stay in our game, get good at our game long enough to win at our game.  

Less then 2% of people respond well to a challenge to compete against perfection.  When average people are placed under the pressure of being compared to perfection they shrink from performing the task because they feel inferior.   Inferiority causes people to produce at considerably less than 100% and inferiority also squelches any creativity related to the task - which is worth gold to a business owner.

Instead of getting some fraction of 100% from your employees, consider multiplying your ability in your employees to perform a particular task.  Consider even empowering someone not only to do the task as well as you can, but improving the total performance of the employee with clear direction and support. This will have the effect of releasing them to further enhance the procedure, the process, the effectiveness, and the result of the task.   The only way to make someone want to give you this kind of excellence is to direct them, develop them, equip them, train them, and support them.  To become this kind of leader/manager, you must help them overcome their fear of you, even trust you to look at their performance and coach them to produce a higher quality of excellence.  

If you have someone who responds well to your competitive one-up-man-ship, perhaps your approach will produce the best result in this particular employee, but remember we manage one person at a time.  Most people need to be completed and would value being mentored by a driven but patient entrepreneur.  If you are having morale issues, productions issues, or quality issues, consider not showing off your vocational prowess as a motivator but mentoring and completing your valuable people by developing them.

Tom Cochran