As an entrepreneur, how confident are you in asking for the things you want?
Do you feel guilty asking someone to make revisions to a logo design, because you figure they already worked sooooo hard on it?
Do you worry that your people might resent you for having specific demands?
Do you start lots of sentences with, “I’m sorry, but…”?
Because you shouldn’t.
See, there’s been a lot of talk lately about the word bossy – and to be fair, the word gets a bad, BAD rap.
Ouch, right? Now that’s a word with some negative connotations! Beyoncé thinks so, and if she said that the word “what” has negative connotations, I’d probably believe her. (And then we’d hang out together because we’re also BFFs in this reality.)
The point is, whether you’re young, old, man, woman, or anything in between, you probably don’t like the idea of people thinking you’re BOSSY.
And I’ve gotta tell ya. It’s time to GET OVER IT.
It’s time to embrace your inner dictator.
That’s what my friend Leonie told me a while back, when we were talking about how much I love to lead a team – and while I don’t really think of myself as a dictator dictator, I think she totally had the right idea.
What is your inner dictator?
I know, I know – “dictator” doesn’t really have a better connotation than “bossy.” Heck, it’s probably worse. It kind of makes you think about people toppling statues in the town square.
But when it comes to business, a dictator is a RULER. (And you rule, don’t you?) Your inner dictator is that voice in your head that KNOWS what you want – even when your mouth doesn’t want to say it. It’s that ambition that made you want to leave behind a life of taking orders from others and embark on this crazy entrepreneurial journey. It’s the LEADER inside of you.
So while I might say “dictator” in a not-entirely-serious sort of way, the point is that you are in total control of your business. That doesn’t make you bossy – that makes you good at what you do.
But of course, there are limits – because aren’t there always limits? I mean, you’re trying to run a business here, not take over a country! So here are three ways that you can embrace your inner dictator without driving everyone around you insane.
1. Know what you want – and ask for it!
You’ve probably noticed that I’m a female – and a young one, at that. That doesn’t always make it easy in the business world – and I’ve talked to a LOT of other people who have shared the frustrating experience of not being taken seriously (and not just women, either).
You don’t want people to think you’re being a whiney brat – you want them to value your opinions and respect you! The thing is, though, no one can value your opinions if they – or YOU – don’t know what they are.
Imagine you and a date are out to dinner. You make your selection from the menu and place your order, but your date can’t make up their mind. They want chicken. They want fish. They want to leave and go to Taco Bell! Even after they finally order, they stop the server every time they pass your table and ask to change their selection, or to make another special request.
Eventually, the server says that no, they can’t change their mind any more – and when the food comes, your date is pouting because they don’t like what’s in front of them.
The words “whiney” and “brat” come to mind, don’tcha think?
Nothing is worse than a boss who doesn’t know what they want. Whether you’re talking to an employee or just a person you’re paying for a service, you have to know what you want from them, and communicate it clearly – because while it’s their responsibility to deliver what you want, it’s YOUR responsibility to make sure they know exactly what that IS.
Remember, you became the boss because you had a vision. If you’re still trying to figure out what that vision is, that’s on you – not the person you’re paying. Dictators know what they want. Brats don’t. Be a dictator.
And while you’re free to want the things that you want, remember…
2. Accept that you do NOT always know best.
Respecting boundaries is what separates your inner dictator from…ya know…a REAL dictator.
Remember that the people you work with are really good at what they do. I talked last week about how the world is full of talented professionals – and it’s up to you to give them the independence they need to do their best work.
There have been times when I suggested to someone that they change their approach to a task, and they responded by telling me that their system was working just fine – and that was the end of the discussion. I didn’t insist that they change just because I wanted them to do it my way! They had a solution that worked, and while I’m sure my input was appreciated, it wasn’t necessary. Case closed!
Being a good leader means being a good leader. It does NOT mean being better at everyone else’s jobs than they are! Being the CEO doesn’t mean that you know more about business card design than the freelancer you hired to create your business cards. It doesn’t mean that you know more about good layouts than your web developer. It means that you’re the boss, and while you ultimately make the decisions, those decisions should be based on something other than your own opinions – so listen up!
Which brings us to the last way for you to embrace your inner dictator:
3. Respect other people – AND yourself!
Respecting other people is about more than good manners – I’m pretty sure even Lord Voldemort said “please” and “thank you” every now and then! Respect isn’t even just about listening (which I just talked about – scroll back up if you’ve been skimmin’).
Respect is about valuing people when you’re in a position of power – and that includes valuing yourself.
Here’s an example: Let’s say you hired a logo designer for your business (yeah, I know I already used the logo design thing – so sue me, I used to be a designer). You can tell they worked hard on what they sent you, but it’s not quiiiite what you had in mind. You don’t want to ask them to make changes, though – you don’t want to be any trouble. You don’t want to seem bossy. So you just take it the way it is.
Embracing your inner dictator means respecting yourself enough to stop compromising on the things that are important to you.
If you ordered a pair of shoes online and they sent you the wrong ones, you wouldn’t keep them just because they fit your feet! You paid for something that you wanted, and you didn’t get it. Send those shoes back. Send that LOGO back. YOU are the one in charge, so respect your right to get what you want.
The trick here is to do this while respecting the time and the limits of others. If you send that logo back once, that’s one thing – send it back four or five times, though, and maybe you need to give some serious thought to what the problem really is. (This is why it’s so important to know what you want and to listen to others!)
It’s Time to Embrace Your Inner Dictator
Now you can see that your inner dictator is already there inside you – you just have to be willing to listen to it! Whether or not you’re used to being the one in control in a professional setting, you’re the one in control now – so you may as well OWN it!
Know what you want and delegate tasks with confidence. Trust the people who work under you. And respect your own wants and needs! If you can do these three things, you are WELL on your way to harnessing the power of that inner dictator – and when you do, you’ll discover just how rewarding being the boss can really be!
Can you think of a time you held back because you didn’t want to seem too bossy? What would you do differently today? Share your story in the comments!