Does Ownership = Leadership?

How do owners become leaders?  When they start their company?  When they buy it?  When they inherit it?  When they are ‘promoted’?  ‘No’ is the answer.

leadershipLeadership is a learned talent.  Of course it helps if the leader has a personality that makes people like to be led by her.  But the skills can be learned and perfected through repetition, often trial and error, observation, and willingness to change.


I worked with the new owners of a company who had been employees for 20 plus years.  What do you suppose happened the first day after the transaction was completed?  They came to work the next Monday, dropped their bags in bigger offices and went to work on the same things they were working on the previous Friday.  No one tapped them on the shoulder and anointed them ‘leaders’.

This is how they operated for the first year:  Sustaining the organization; struggling with new responsibilities; making mistakes; using old policies/compensation plans/etc. (which were 20 years old when they took over) and generally trying to stay ahead of the latest crisis.  And their former peers were now their employees, but some of those relationships were hard to morph.

The new owners are smart, aggressive, creative and, best of all, knew that they had to change in order to achieve their mutual goals for the business and for each of them personally.  And the alternative was unacceptable.  They asked for help to make the changes and got it.  The decisions they made have positioned their company to springboard toward their goals.

Ownership does not equal leadership, even for those owners who have been in place for a long time.  Here is one view of some of the challenges that owners face on their way to becoming leaders:  Get some objective help!

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