Is your leadership style hurting your business?
You’re the realest at being you.
I say that a lot and every single time I say it, I really hope you get the fullness of what that statement means.
Lately, I’ve been having a lot of conversations with people that are setting timelines; arbitrary, incomprehensible timelines that have nothing to do with their specific business, but have much more to do with some ridiculous metric of success they have that is entirely based on what some celebrity entrepreneur was able to achieve by their age.
Your business is not the avenue for you to compare yourself to other people.
If you’re that interested in stewing in your insecurities, go check out the net worth/awards/followers of your favourite rapper, that just happens to be 10 years younger than you. When you’re done wallowing, remind yourself that its only a matter of time before you get to your own version of success. Because, they have their challenges, you have yours.
PRO TIP: Perseverance is the only difference between success and failure.
Being a good leader of your business requires you to know that it is YOUR business not someone else’s. It revolves around YOU. What YOU can do. What YOU enjoy. What YOU care about. Not anyone else.
This post isn’t about how you lead other people, its about how you lead yourself.
This is about your personal development in relation to the way you guide yourself through the development of your business.
This is really important, so take the time to work on this stuff. Its going to be the difference between you winning awards and applying for jobs in 24 months. This is the long-game. Step into it.
I’ve mentioned what it means to be a good leader in a couple of posts, but today, I want to deep-dive into what it really means and how you can begin taking steps to being the type of leader that helps, instead of hurts your business.
A few months ago, I came up with a list of characteristics that I've found exemplify good leadership. The list is intended to be achievable. Its meant to help you figure out where you score on each area of leadership and start thinking about how you can improve.
People are less likely to quit their job because they don’t like the work (everyone has bills to pay). People quit their jobs because the leadership of the company sucks. Businesses helmed by bad leaders fail. Don’t be like them.
10 LEADERSHIP TRAITS YOU SHOULD BE WORKING ON...
- You are confident in your vision
This is the crux of everything you communicate to your team. You’re gathering a group of people that believe in the mission and want to do the work to achieve the vision. This is your main barrier of entry; this is what truly qualifies or disqualifies a person who wants to join your team. Do they truly believe in the vision or not?
The leadership challenge here is this – if you aren’t confident in your vision for your business, no one else is going to be. If your vision is constantly shifting and subject to change, then no one is going to be able to get connected to the core of it.
Create a vision and stick with it. Hard.
- You are a great listener
When I talk about being confident in your vision, and generally being confident in your choices as a leader, that doesn’t mean you should ignore the suggestions of your team.
You need to be the kind of person that's willing to hear anyone out. You need to listen to, explore and build on what your team is creating so that they feel valued and you’re not subject to as many blind spots as you would be if you did everything on your own.
When you listen, listen to the whole thing. Ask questions, dive into the complications of it. Then, filter the suggestions through this question – does it contribute to the fruition of the vision to not?
- You are flexible
Being a team leader means understanding that your team is a union of individuals, all of whom have their own ideas, issues and needs. Their work life is only a part of their life, and you need to respect that.
Flexibility is about giving people options. Ask them what makes sense to them in terms of deadlines. Negotiate that stuff. Things that affect their workload are not set in stone until they agree that it works for them too. Don’t be a dictator.
One of the key practices you could choose to adopt is giving all your team the opportunity to bring ideas to you at any time. If you’ve said, do it this way, your team should feel comfortable suggesting an alternative route. They’re not mindless zombies and may in fact know much more about the subject matter than you do. Give them a chance to show it.
Flexibility is not just about deadlines, its also about your willingness to mould your working style to fit the needs of your individual team members.
- You communicate clearly and effectively
The most annoying thing a team leader could ever do is be vague. The second most annoying thing is being unnecessarily verbose.
In every meeting, think about how you can organise things so you’re covering everything in detail without beating your team over the head with the subject matter.
Its really important that ahead of every meeting, you fully understand what you want to do. You may not know the way to do it, but knowing what you want to achieve is imperative to running a good meeting.
Brainstorming only works when you have an end goal in mind. Don’t go into a meeting asking, "does anyone have any ideas?" leaving the door open to everything, because that’s going to lead to really unproductive “talk is cheap” type meetings that will get your team to start thinking of meetings as an interruption to their work day rather than a time to productively create new solutions.
Meetings should begin with a description of the specific aspect of the vision for the business you’re addressing and the specific way, you as the team leader would like to address it based on your individual/pre-meeting conversations with the team, your reading of the data and your feedback from customers.
Once that premise is set, you can work on the HOW. Team meetings are for HOWs not WHATs.
- You manage time appropriately
This is about more than just your meetings. Its about respecting your team members and displaying that you’re an honourable boss.
No one is going to want to tell you that every meeting you run goes on for at least 30 minutes longer than you said it would, but they’ll complain about it to each other behind your back.
No one is going to complain to your face that you always reschedule meetings at the last moment, but they’ll diss you when you’re not around.
Not managing time properly is another way of telling them that you don’t respect their time.
Things happen once in a while, but don’t make it a habit. Even the nicest person will start to feel undervalued soon enough.
- You are liked and respected by your team
This is about being personable and knowing where to set your boundaries. It’s the perfect balance between being their friend and their boss.
The best experiences are had by a team member when they feel like they can talk to you about the problems they are having with their job in honest and open conversations, but they don’t feel like they could talk to you about what their ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend is posting on Instagram.
Find the balance and you’ll have a healthy team atmosphere.
- You know how to do all the jobs of your team members
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not expecting you to be a genius. I don’t expect you to know how to do everything to expert levels, but to be a good leader, you need to communicate properly. To communicate properly, you need to know what you’re talking about, or at least sound like you know what you’re talking about.
To that end, before you do anything, and before you ask your team to do anything, read up on it. Read a few blog posts on the subject and get a sensible idea of what's possible.
The most frustrating thing for a team member is to be asked to achieve the impossible without any real context or understanding by the team leader.
So, task yourself to understand their jobs well. If you don’t understand something, don’t be afraid to ask. Reverse mentorship is a good thing.
Ask your team to spend 30 minutes talking you through a process that could help your business grow. You’re the leader. Understanding how things work is your main job. asking them to explain things to you, will help them feel valued. Just be careful to do this "reverse mentorship" with trusted employees that already respect you, otherwise, you risk looking incompetent.
- You don’t do the jobs of your team members
Autonomy is a really powerful thing.
Giving individuals the power to go their own way under your guidance builds the type of trusting relationship that's going to help them like and respect you – which is something you should be aiming for.
Don’t be a micro-manager. The reason you hire people is to get more sleep. Being a micromanager is like paying someone else to steal your sleep.
If you’ve done the work to hire your staff properly, you’ve done the interview process, you’ve built a strong team culture that encourages responsibility and autonomy, then there is no reason you’d have to do someone else’s job – unless you’re seriously power hungry. In which case, change that.
- You give leadership opportunities to others
This trait builds on a couple of other traits we’ve already dissected.
A good team leader creates a culture that promotes autonomy and agency. They also listen well and communicate well. They’re also good at engaging with other people’s ideas because they’re confident in the vision and know how to communicate it clearly and effectively. Having all that down means that you can do this.
Give other people the mic.
Find mini projects for team members that have shown themselves to be exemplary. I’m not just talking about vertical promotions. Every team member should be able to see where the next promotion is so that they can move up the ladder. But, you also need to consider horizontal promotions.
You need to give your team members the opportunity to grow in their role. Train them, give them opportunities to use that training in your company. Help them understand what it means to be a leader in your team. Invite them into high level conversations. Ask them for their opinion – you don’t have to use it, but let them know that you value whatever they come up with.
Giving team members leadership opportunities is about building in the foundation for new departments in your company. When you empower leaders, you’re opening up the door for new hires that can be taken care of by that leader. That’s how you grow a company and reduce attrition rates. That's how you scale and do it sustainably.
- You can take days off without worrying about the business
If you’ve done everything else, you’ll be able to go to Morocco for three weeks, be completely incommunicado and everything will go well without you.
I hope you’re ready to not be needed – that’s only an issue if you're power hungry. Again. Seriously, change that. Power hungry people fail.
The only way you’re going to be a good leader is if you look at your business and your team objectively. Everything you do, all the work you put in should be with a view that one day soon, you’ll be able to leave the country and not have to worry about what’s going on in your office.
That’s all folks.
Thanks for reading,
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