How to Become an Industry Leader
In this age of information overload, we often get caught up with our own little worlds, not realising how much time has passed since someone else was doing our job.
If you’ve been in sales long enough, you know success isn’t just about closing deals anymore—it’s also about building relationships, developing strong networks and taking care of your clients after they buy your product or service.
When it comes to being an industry leader, the key is learning what people want and finding a way to give them that.
That kind of leadership takes effort. It requires dedication, hard work and some humility. You may feel like you don’t need help because you think you’re “smart enough” to figure everything out on your own. However, everyone could use some guidance now and then. The key is knowing when to ask for advice.
If you are a leader in the office, you should be teaching new staff how to become leaders. Students who have not been allowed to lead at home or in community settings might find it challenging to take on this role in a professional environment. This can lead to low self-esteem and poor performance.
Leadership is about more than being great at what you do
When I started working full-time, I thought I knew all there was to know about branding. However, as I got busier over the years, I realised I had fallen into a trap where I felt guilty asking questions from those outside my immediate circle (i.e., friends, family members).
After all, shouldn’t I be able to solve any problem myself without needing their assistance? While that might seem logical at first glance, here’s what happens when you fall into that mindset:
1 – Your network begins to shrink
When you only ask peers for help, you end up limiting your support system. They’ll probably say yes, but you won’t necessarily find solutions based on their expertise.
Plus, sometimes you can’t trust them to give you honest feedback. An excellent way to get out of your head is to talk with people doing the work. The best kind of peer is someone whose strengths match your own.
Think about who is an industry leader in your area. If you’re a coder, it’s probably other top coders. And if you’re a writer, it’s probably the writers you know.
2 – You begin to see problems as challenges instead of opportunities
We tend to look at every situation through the lens of what we think will happen next. This leads us to believe that certain actions must achieve specific results.
Unfortunately, we miss valuable insights into better alternatives by focusing solely on outcomes. For example, let’s say you were recently promoted within your company and you were given control over one of your direct reports’ budgets.
Instead of looking at the budget as an opportunity to grow his department while improving overall productivity, you would immediately start trying to cut costs by cutting back hours and benefits.
In reality, though, your employee needs adequate training before handling such responsibilities. By thinking this way, you’d waste money right off the bat and set your team up for failure later down the line.
3 – You lose confidence in your abilities
Being ambitious doesn’t mean you have to go against your gut instinct. Sometimes, it’s OK to listen to both sides and weigh multiple perspectives rather than making rash decisions quickly.
Take a few days to consider different options and evaluate potential consequences before committing to anything. People will respect you as an industry leader for having self-control.
4 – You get tunnel vision & burnout
Too many times, entrepreneurs jump straight into entrepreneurship without learning the basics of marketing first. That’s especially dangerous during these tough economic times!
Before diving headfirst into website design, SEO, social media, etc., put together a shortlist of vendors and agencies so you have a clear idea of which ones to hire and which ones to avoid.
5 – You overlook future growth opportunities
If you focus purely on generating revenue today, you risk missing significant trends that could bring even bigger rewards tomorrow.
Look for companies that offer mentorship programs, free educational resources, etc., that allow you to stay on top of emerging technologies and innovations.
These types of partnerships often provide access to an industry leader who can show you firsthand what’s happening in your particular niche.
One client of mine did exactly that when she joined Instagram and discovered influential marketers and CEOs using its platform to broadcast live events to hundreds of thousands of followers. She soon saw the value of harnessing her reach and following to promote herself and her services.
Nowadays, technology provides endless possibilities for connecting with consumers, whether it’s via email, text message, video conferencing, or face-to-face meetings.
So instead of sitting around waiting for someone to notice you, try leveraging modern communications to showcase your talents and skills.
Get out of your comfort zone and meet people who aren’t like you
The thing about networking is that it rarely pays to stick to the same group of people day in and day out. Sure, you might be familiar with most of them, but once you step out of your box, you’ll open doors to countless opportunities that weren’t available otherwise.
To illustrate, I attended weekly breakfast meetings at local restaurants with colleagues. Over time, I found myself gravitating towards meeting other professionals in similar industries who happened to work nearby.
Eventually, I met two individuals whose careers seemed far removed from mine. Their fields revolved around real estate investment banking and alternative energy production.
I didn’t realise how much knowledge transfer took place from each interaction until months later. Even now, I’m still finding beneficial connections between businesses that serve completely unrelated markets.
Another benefit of expanding beyond your personal sphere is gaining insight into other areas of life. What’s interesting is that although we come from very different backgrounds, we ended up forming close friendships simply due to our shared interest in helping others.
Whenever a charitable organisation approaches me about contributing funds or volunteering, I tell them that I wouldn’t mind attending whatever function they host next.
Why? Because I love supporting causes that align with my beliefs and values. Just remember: Donating to charities isn’t just altruistic; it’s a brilliant business opportunity too!
Put yourself in other people’s shoes
Although I’m pretty introverted, I occasionally participate in small talk groups and happy hour gatherings. I’ve managed to strike up conversations with strangers who are genuinely curious about me on rare occasions.
Usually, I respond with brief answers followed by a polite smile. Most people usually reciprocate with a friendly compliment.
From experience, I know it can be scary when we forget to assume others are feeling uncomfortable, but it helps improve communication immensely.
Try putting yourself in another person’s shoes and seeing situations from their perspective. Chances are, you’ll discover hidden gems buried deep inside their hearts and minds.
Find ways to make your customer an industry leader too
As a former entrepreneur, I understand that running your own business entails balancing numerous duties. There’s never enough time to accomplish everything that needs to be done.
No matter how much faith you have in your ability to run a profitable operation, it’s easy to underestimate your own weaknesses or overestimate your strengths.
Therefore, you should periodically seek expert advice and feedback from mentors or advisers who hold positions higher than yours.
You can easily delegate tasks and projects to employees or freelancers to save time and maximise efficiency. However, remember that delegating responsibility to third parties does not absolve you of accountability.
As an industry leader, you ultimately have to ensure that deadlines are met, and goals are achieved.
The easiest way to do that is by regularly checking in with your team to uncover bottlenecks and obstacles that could derail progress.
To help you stay on top of things, here are several ways to ensure smooth sailing as you navigate the waters of business ownership:
1 – Know Your Team
Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, it’s vital that you know what type of people will best fit into your team. You may consider hiring temporary workers to help in the interim until you find the right fit, but only if you can comfortably predict how a fresh hire will perform.
If you find yourself constantly relying on an outsider to fill gaps, you’re not genuinely delegating. Rather than trusting your employees, you’re giving too much power to someone who doesn’t share your passion for the project.
2 – Set Goals & Measure Performance
Most aspiring entrepreneurs struggle with defining their goals. If you want to hit the ground running, you’re better off keeping things simple and setting benchmarks along the way.
This allows you to track your progress and measure your success. For example, “I’m going to launch my business by December.” is much more specific than “launch a new product by December.”
3 – Communicate Clearly
Communication is the lifeblood of any operation and should be treated like one. Many founders make the mistake of assuming that their employees will understand what they are saying.
While this might be true in some cases, there are ways to ensure your communication with anyone is understood and effective.
Becoming an industry leader doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a focused approach to strategy and execution, coupled with the right partners, customers and suppliers. Each of those areas is critical to your success.
With the help of our global network of experts, we can guide you through the process of becoming an industry leader in your business or market.
By taking a 360-degree view of your company, we’ll give you the strategic support and hands-on expertise that will accelerate growth.