If I were to say I was a whiz at leading people, I’d be wrong. Yet, there are some lessons I’ve learned while hiring over 50 people that have made a difference.
You need to spend time around your team, participating in genuine conversations, and being a good listener.
At interviews, there is a tendency to say exactly what you know the employer wants to hear, and I’ve gotten burned being a little too naive to think everything someone says is truly how they feel.
The saying is true: “people don’t care what you know until they know how much you care.” Be intentional in building a working relationship where you know the individuals in your team. The plus is that it can also help foster collaboration with the team. As the business owner, you are at a unique place to help your employees tap into their skills or try a new area of interest to grow professionally. Diversity is great on a team because if we all liked and acted the same, so much wouldn’t get done.
How does he or she carry on a conservation? Is he or she shy? Insecure? A dreamer?
What are their likes and dislikes?
What makes their face light up?
What do they complain about?
What do they rave about?
Sometimes you have to let someone fail to enable growth individually.
I once had a team member who came to me to tell me she was interested in learning more about scheduling and office work. After a few weeks, I decided it was time to let her do the schedule independently.
I noticed a day before a home was supposed to be on the schedule but was forgotten. “Should I say something?” After noticing it, I saw I could offer the client another slot. I let it go.
When we were supposed to be there, we got a text from the client asking where the team was. Immediately, the person realized their mistake.
I called the client and explained what happens in my company is always my responsibility, regardless of what happens. I told her why I had allowed the mistake. She was understanding and thought it was incredible, and she was more than happy to have the Friday slot that week. Did it hurt me? Yes, it did because I knew I could have prevented it. But what kind of a leader would I be if I was always rescuing?
In my business journey, I have learned from my mistakes and hiccups. Why would I want to short-change that opportunity from those under me?
When you take those risks, make sure it’s calculated so that the lesson learned outweighs the consequences. It helped this individual learn this was not something she enjoyed, and her skill set was used much better in another area. And you know what? That’s ok!
Did this person take initiative and come to me for this project or position? Or did I have to ask or have to check in regularly?
Does this person respond quickly to a given question on this project or position, or does it seem that they might be avoiding it altogether?
If they are inexperienced for this position or project, do they ask for help? Or do they go out of their way to learn and gain tools to carry it out?
You lead with a lasting impression.
This one should be pretty obvious, right? How many jobs can you think of that you left because of failed leadership? Maybe a supervisor didn’t keep coworkers accountable for their work or lack thereof, so the hardworking employees left to go where they felt appreciated.
You lead by example. More is caught than taught; we know this as parents when your two-year-old goes: “oh sh*t!” Really?! That’s what she picked up?
What is contagious is an attitude; as the business owner, you set the tone of “culture” within your company. Create a can-do, grateful, and an I got your back environment by showing it in actions and words. Have an open-door policy where your team knows you’ll come to them when you know you may have been a little harsh. Or share where you did something that let a client or one of them down. You should go a step further and ask their forgiveness and look for a solution to the problem. This is raw, authentic leadership that your team will appreciate. Your team wants authenticity and transparency over perfection. So, as a leader, die to self-promotion and seek ways big and small to speak your team’s praise and all they do for your company. Be humbled that your dream as a business owner is fulfilled not because of what you’ve done but by what you all have accomplished together!
Would I want to work for myself as an employee?
Do I set the tone I would want my boss to lead with?
When was the last time I’ve admitted I’ve made a mistake or might have been short with someone on my team?