Obligation is a word riddled with negative connotations. For entrepreneurs and managers, however, it is a word that should be undeniably linked to every aspect of their title. The obligation mindset is a necessity.
There are two types of obligation that should occupy the minds of successful leaders everywhere. The first is the obligation to perform. The second is the obligation to share.
Obligation to perform
This is perhaps the most obvious form of entrepreneurial obligation: the requirement to perform. As an entrepreneur or manager, your team is constantly watching for you to set the bar in terms of expectations.
It is your responsibility to conduct business the way you want to see it conducted across your company. Complete your tasks on time. Communicate efficiently and effectively. Continuously chisel at your task list to illustrate the proper work ethic, drive, and output. There can be no doubt about what you expect of your team if you show them firsthand.
“I feel an overwhelming obligation,” says entrepreneur Rand Fishkin, “to someday, somehow live up to my own standards.”
Obligation to share
The second, perhaps more rare, type of obligation encountered by entrepreneurs and managers is the obligation to share. It is typically categorized by the need to ensure your business ventures survive beyond the term of your capabilities.
How long would your business last if you were not around to help run it? Sharing your expertise is a good way to ensure that your team is well-prepared should you require an extended or permanent absence.
Sometimes the obligation to share can expand into benevolent realms. For example, you might feel obligated to share your secrets for success with others that exhibit similar levels of ambition and passion. This “Life by Design” form of obligation stems from a strong desire to help like-minded individuals meet and exceed their own personal goals, which often results in a rewarding feeling for both you and them.
When the obligation mindset is absent
No one is obligated to adopt the obligation mindset. So what happens if individuals in leadership roles don’t embrace this sometimes unpleasant feeling of responsibility?
Nothing will change at first. In fact, nothing may change at all. Employees may continue to perform the way they always have. Company standards may remain as incomplete as they were when you first began your journey.
Worst of all? No one will be capable of ensuring your company prospers after you are gone. You may be able to achieve short-term success by refusing to share your methods with those around you, but your business goals and level of personal satisfaction will surely suffer in the long-run if you neglect your obligation to teach others what you know.
Aaron Sansoni, the new breed of selling superstar, is an international speaker, best-selling author and recent nominee for Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2016 & Australian of the Year 2017.