Are you tired of getting flack from people you lead? Tired of being one of the first to blame when things go wrong? Frustrated by the lack of backup and support and feeling like you are trying to lead people who don’t want to follow?
As a business owner you wear many hats and one of the hats is the leader of your business. This means you do need knowledge how to actually lead people in your business. It doesn’t matter if they are independent contractors or if they are part-time or full time employees and it doesn’t matter if they work in your office or virtually or remotely. You must have leadership skills.
If you are like most business owners that I mentor, most likely you haven’t had a lot of training in leadership and you might be lacking skills to actually be an effective leader. If you have been thrust into leadership as the business owner it is your responsibility to ensure they you all the tools and training necessary in order for you to create effective results in your business.
To become a great leader, you want to take inventory right now of your own leadership areas that aren’t your strengths. Be honest. Brainstorm with your team and ask for their honest opinions – make it clear that this is not a blame apportioning exercise and that opinions shall be treated with respect.
Ask people on your team what is already working about your leadership and build from there. Make your own list of your strengths and your weaknesses and have your team do the same and allow in their perspective with no defensiveness.
For those things which definitely are not working, brainstorm as a team. Ask your team members what they need from you in order to do their jobs more efficiently. Do they need more training? More autonomy? More supervision? Regular feedback? Weekly meetings with you?
Be certain you also communicate to your team what you need from them. If you want them to just get on with the job and only bother you when there is a problem that only you can help with, let them know. If you’d rather they reported weekly to you on the progress of certain projects, tell them. Chances are none of you are mind-readers!
Your role as leader will be greatly improved if you open the lines of communication. Do not apportion blame. Rather than seeing your role in terms of “managing”, think of it in terms of coaching or mentoring. Experience has shown that employees respond better to coaching/mentoring techniques than they do to the traditional management methods.
This means never being too busy for your staff, never being too self-important, and making time to be their Team Leader. Pay attention to what they say to you. Take the time to listen and learn from and with them. Have a meeting and be open. You cannot work in the dark. Allow your team to tell you what they need in order to do their jobs properly.
Dirty Little Leadership Secrets:
1. Listen carefully. Don’t be thinking ahead of what you want to say – put that aside while the other person is talking and just concentrate on what they are saying to you. It takes practice. If a meeting is prearranged, you have time to make a list of things you wish to cover so you won’t forget anything when the other person starts speaking.
2. Repeat back what you think they said to ensure you have understood. Use phrases like “I understand what you mean,” or “I see your point”, and when you don’t, ask them to clarify. Get to the bottom of it. If you still disagree with them afterwards, you will find that by finding some small thing to agree on will lessen any tension the other person may be feeling and they will be just that little bit more open to what you have to say.
3. Be honest about your own shortcomings and admit to your mistakes. And if you are going to give feedback, be careful not to do it in a blaming sense. Keep emotion out of it and just stick to the facts. Do not resort to name-calling or putting anybody else down in order to justify your position.
4. Apologize where an apology is called for. Don’t try to make excuses for poor performance – focus instead on what can be done to improve/rectify the situation.
5. Ask for input/ideas on how to improve the situation. Make it a “team effort” – you and your workforce, and you and your higher management.
6. If the timing is bad for your discussion, be honest and say that you need time to think over what has just been said and make a time for follow up. Never make decisions in haste – that’s when mistakes are made.
7. Stand in their shoes. Remain impartial and stick to the facts. This way you can not offend anybody or be accused of taking sides. Make it clear that you can see the points team members make objectively.
8. Take personal responsibility for your life – and this includes your career and the choices you make. If you know you need training in management skills, go get them. Hire a business or leadership coach. If not, is there anything stopping you from seeking this yourself? This training and mentoring will serve you in myriad ways and not just serve a useful purpose in your ‘now’, but also in your unknown future.
9. Take care of yourself. If you can’t avoid ‘stress’, do practice stress control techniques and strategies. Don’t neglect your own private life and especially your family. A job can come and go, but your life and your family go on… Having a healthy life balance can make a big difference to your managerial role in small but meaningful ways. When your own morale is up and your stress levels are low, you are more relaxed and able to think more clearly, face challenges more energetically, and enjoy your position more freely.
Your job should be part of your life – not your whole life. As a business owner and leader, you may sometimes feel you have to be all things to all people. It doesn’t have to be that way if you focus on a team spirit. You are all in it together and the responsibility for making anything “work” should be a team effort.
Terri Levine is the founder of www.Heartrepreneur.com, author of 30 books on sales, marketing, business and coaching and mentor to some of the most successful business owners, featured in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fortune, Redbook, Shape, Self, advisor to General Electric, seen on ABC, NBC, CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, and host of her own TV and radio show. She provides all readers with a free gift to get a ton of qualified leads coming right to them at www.gethotpayingclients.com.