Being a great leader is one of the hardest things we as entrepreneurs need to do. It takes guts, grit, and a huge amount of work to build your business to where you want it to be.
The failure rate of new businesses is astounding and whilst there are a large amount of factors that go into a successful business, there’s one that stands above all:
It’s your job as a leader to be like the captain of a ship, steering your crew toward the end-goal. This is why so many businesses fail. Not because of a lack of money, not because a lack of talent, but because we as leaders fail.
In my [insert number here] years of building businesses, I’ve made a lot of mistakes and had more than my fair share of failures. Here are the five truths of business that these mistakes and failures have taught me, Boyd Parker.
1. We Don’t Give Enough Responsibility to Our Team
When I was a younger man, I saw my role as a leader as a way to control everything. I needed things to be done MY way, and if they weren’t…well I suggested that they find someone other than Boyd Parker to work with.
This approach cost me a lot in terms of time, money, and emotional energy.
The whole reason we create teams is because we can’t do everything ourselves, and we need to delegate responsibilities to others in order to grow and scale our businesses. In order to do that we need to build our businesses processes and systems, and adapt those as the situation changes.
This means giving your team the responsibilities. In “On the Meaning of Work,” Brent D. Rosso, PhD and his team found that people are more likely to stay in, and work harder, on projects that gave them meaning. In this case it increased motivation, empowerment, and engagement.
By making your team responsible for the tasks they have and giving them freedom to work how they want within your processes (as long as they’re getting results) you and your business are going to see more success.
2. We’re Not Consistent with Our Communication Style
There are a lot of traits that make a great leader but the most important one that I, Boyd Parker, have found is communication.
If we can’t communicate properly with our team we’re not going to see the results from all the graft that we put into our businesses. A key aspect of communication is making sure that whoever is on the receiving end trusts us.
Trust is built from consistency and doing what you’ll say you’ll do.
When it comes to consistency in our communication a lot of “leaders” seem to have two sides; the nurturing mother and the authoritarian father. If your team don’t know which one to expect, it leads to a lack of trust and a decrease in motivation. This means your team is less likely to back you up when you most need them.
Imagine you’re in a relationship where every day you come home and have no idea if your partner is going to be the kindest, sweetest, most loving person or a hate-filled, rage-addled maniac. Does that give you faith in the relationship? Are you going to trust them to make good decisions? Are you going to pull out all the stops to make sure that their needs are met?
The difference between a great leader and a bad one is the same.
We need to cultivate and build great relationships with our team so that they have faith in us and the business, that they trust our decision-making process, and that they ensure all the business’s needs are met.
It doesn’t matter which communication style that you choose or comes most naturally to you. What matters is that once the expectations of your team have been set, you keep up with those expectations.
3. We’re Don’t Spend Enough Time on Really Getting to Know People
Great leaders want to get to know who they’re working with so that they can help them get to the goal that they’re working towards. You need to have focussed conversations with your team to understand exactly what they want, and (more importantly) how you’re going to get them there.
Poor leaders are lazy in how they incentivise their teams and make assumptions that everyone’s looking for the same thing. This is why you see so many bosses trying – and failing – to get their teams motivated by offering larger and larger bonuses. However, not everyone is money-motivated, myself included.
In my experience, there are loads of different ways to incentivise people, for me, Boyd Parker, I need more than just money:
- Some want more recognition
- Some want to learn more skills
- Some want to operate more independently
By figuring out exactly what your team wants and is driven by, providing incentives that are in-line with those desires, and coaching them on their journey, you’re going to see a huge jump in motivation, productivity, and loyalty.
4. We Don’t Communicate Effectively
If your team don’t consistently do things in the way that they need to be done…it’s time to look in the mirror. Question yourself: “Boyd Parker, as a leader, you need to accept responsibility for our team not doing the tasks correctly and figure out why they haven’t done the task properly.”
In the majority of cases it’s down to us not having communicated properly with our team. As a leader we have a huge number of responsibilities and need to communicate what needs to be done with our team quickly. However, this often leads to sloppy, vague, and confusing communication.
We need to be able to succinctly tell our team what needs to be done to avoid wasting time with back-and-forth emails, calls, and chats. Most of the leaders that I’ve mentored are worried about coming across as patronising by laying out everything they need from their team. When I talk to their teams, they enjoy how straight-forward and easy it is to understand what their boss wants.
Next time you send an email, text, or communicate in any way, take a moment and ask yourself “have I said this in the clearest way possible?”
5. We Make it About Us
No one is going to care as much about your business as you do? I understood that no one is going to work harder than Boyd Parker, and no one is going to put the same amount of emotional energy into your business as you.
And that’s the trap.
When we work hard on building something amazing we run the risk of making our business about US. We forget that what we’ve worked so hard to build can come crashing down around us if we fail our team.
Without a great team we don’t have a great business and in order to have a great team we need to be a great leader.
Being a great leader is a selfless (often thankless) task. We as leaders need to realise that being “the boss” is about finding a solution that gives our team what they want and directing them toward a common goal.
Once we stop making being a “leader” about us and focussing more on having a great team everything else will fall into place.
By honing in on your team’s wants and communicating better, you’ll get more out of your team. By building others dreams, we build our own. In order to do that, start doing these things:
- Give your team more responsibilities, set your expectations for what results they should be getting and a framework to operate from
- Think objectively about how you communicate with others and be consistent with that style. Understand what works for both you and your team by looking at different communication styles and talking to your team
- Figure out what motivates your team and help them get to where they want to be
- Be concise and make every communication you have as effective as possible. Nine times out of ten this means asking yourself “Is this the best way to communicate this?” before clicking that “send” button
- Make the success of your business about the success of your team
Thanks for reading,