by Jennifer LongmoreThe difference between running an entrepreneurial business and a company is significant. When you’re in the entrepreneurial stage, you’re working predominantly with contractors, you may or may not have run a team before, and your systems are likely lacking or nonexistent. A company is run differently. The systems, policies, procedures, and protocols are in place (even if they’re consistently being revamped or added to). The teams have clear leadership, and there’s a lot more structure to what you’re building. This transition takes time, and while there’s a lot to do to make the transition successful, this is the time to put an emphasis on leadership development. Because becoming a great leader and CEO will require you to think differently, and you can either learn by trial under fire (where the burns are real) or you can learn through intentionally developing the skills you need. Here’s what leadership development will help you accomplish when you explore it intentionally. How your leadership team acts sets the tone for the culture and the company. Even if your leadership team is just you right now, it’s important to know exactly what makes a strong, respected leader and how to lead a conscious company into the future. The problem with putting leadership development off is it is much more difficult to change a company culture than it is to start off strong. So by diving into leadership development now and maintaining it from here on out, you’re heading off problems before they can rear their ugly heads (basically it’s the difference between playing whack-a-mole or hitting the bullseye). If you’ve ever been afraid that your employees will run away with your secrets to a competitor or start their own business, then leadership development is something you should dive into. Leadership isn’t about effectively telling people what to do, how to do it, or getting them in line. That’s old school thinking that can make it hard to keep people on your team. When you learn effective leadership skills, you develop an understanding of what behaviors, policies, and practices keep your employees motivated and productive, while earning their loyalty. Much like trust, loyalty is something you earn from an employee—it’s not something freely given. The best leaders are the ones who hold their boundaries, while remembering that their power comes from the faith, trust, and loyalty of their people. Without it, they fall. In business, it’s no different. Leadership development, at its core, is about understanding and delivering on the needs of your people so that everyone is working together for a common goal or mission. When you immerse yourself in developing your leadership abilities, you learn how to become more in tune with your employees. Your emotional intelligence matures, and you create ways to check in with your team to ensure their needs are being met, pre-empting potential upsets. This allows you to create a culture that fosters inclusion, collaboration, and commitment, so that your people choose to stay and grow with the company. Leaders hold the vision, stay on mission, and emotionally enroll employees into their cause. The way you communicate and make decisions as a leader is different than when you’re in the trenches. You’re responsible for taking the information your team is sharing with you, and playing out the potential outcomes so you can make the strongest decisions for the company, with the mission in mind. For example, if there’s a choice to make an immediately profitable decision that could hurt the team or a choice to put the team first and have more of a slow burn, it’s the leader’s job to make the right decision that upholds the vision, values, and legacy of the company. Strong leaders will put their team (and clients) first consistently, showing the team that their loyalty is well placed. As the leader, you’re responsible for the legacy of the company. How you think through each challenge and decision will shape that legacy. Jennifer is a high performance leadership consultant, working with organizations to create loyal, innovative, creative, and productive cultures that increase profits, using the Forensic Transformation Method™.Jennifer’s over 15 years of experience in forensic investigation, emotional intelligence development, and team dynamics helps her create innovative solutions that organizations need to become 21st century change agents and increase their profitability.Her genius has been featured in media outlets such as Fox News, ABC, Global News, Bustle, the LA Times, and more.