Want to know how to be a better leader? Know this - leadership is everything you do.
At a recent panel discussion I went to, the question was asked - how do I find time to lead my team? When do I lead in between all of the other priorities I have? And the answer? Leadership is everything you do. Your team will look to you for cues and clues on exactly how you want your business to run. Every conversation you have with them or someone else, you are showing them how people have conversations in your business. Every decision you make, you are showing them how decisions are made and what the priorities are in your business. The way you deal with customers and suppliers is the way that customers and suppliers are dealt with in your business.
As a business owner who's trying to grow and develop, this can be a hard pill to swallow. You want the people you bring in to be better than you at the things you brought them in to do. And when we're talking about skills and knowledge, and even experience, then that's entirely fair. But when we're on the subject of 'how we do things around here' then they will always be completely green.
When I share this with the business owners I work with, the reactions can go from mild panic to a sheer terror. It's easy to feel completely out of control when you realise you're under this much scrutiny. No one likes feeling like they're under the microscope. Take a step back though and there are a few easy steps you can take to take back control:
- Work out your core values and what you stand for... this might feel corporate, especially if you've been to any big offices and seen the 'our company values' livery on the wall. It doesn't need to be like this though... spend some time thinking about what your customers value and what you respect in other people. They're likely to be your own values and what you stand for. Share these, make them part of the conversations you have, use them to create a lens for decision making and feedback.
- Never expect different for your team than for yourself... Yes there are perks to being the boss, and once the business is running beautifully well you can take a well earned luxury holiday but to lead well there are certain things you need to do. Set boundaries, be clear when you work and when you don't, do what you say you will do and make choices not excuses. Treat your team, and your business, with respect and your team will do the same.
- Accept that no one will ever care as much as you do... this is your business and most likely your life's work and if you're anything like me you might care about it nearly as much as you do your children. Accept this one truth and you will make your whole life much easier - no one is EVER going to care about your business as much as you do. You can take a whole load of steps to ensure that your team know your expectations, their role, the goals, values and standards (including the non-negotiables) you work to and they might just get close but don't ever expect them to live and breathe it like you do. If by some miracle you do find this person, then HOLD on to them TIGHT!!
- If you want to grow you might need to give up some control...When you're just starting out, although it doesn't feel like it, you have the luxury of doing things all your own way. When you take on a team, they might have other ways of doing things... and that might get the same, or different, and hopefully even better results. When you take people on you typically get a short term drop in productivity but take the time to recruit well, provide clear goals and feed back consistently and you will reap the rewards in the longer term. Relinquish control of the detail and focus on the bigger goals you're shooting for.
Stick to these 4 principles and you'll find things a whole lot easier!
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