If you are the leader or manager of a business, you are not alone if you’ve ever thought “I’d love my job if not for the people!” Leadership is NOT for the faint of heart and I’d hazard a bet that even as you’ve thought those words, you still know in your heart of hearts that you only want what’s best for your team. Most entrepreneurs and business owners that I’ve worked with have all had a vision for their company and part of that vision included being the best at what they do and being a great place to work. I know many very successful executives and business owners who have learned everything on their own and by doing the opposite of what they experienced and hated as employees.
Yet as strong as the vision might have once been, many people find themselves at that turning point wondering, is it even worth it? Big deals dry up, small problems don’t and people who said they were eager to turn your dream into a reality when you interviewed them have suddenly become complain-y and entitled and you often think to yourself, this is NOT what I signed on for. Sometimes, the temptation of going back to your old nine to fiver when you at least had a steady reliable paycheck is almost irresistible.
If that sounds familiar, rest assured that it is extremely common! Just because you had the courage and initiative to start a business doesn’t suddenly make you immune to self-doubt or fear like the rest of the world. The difference for great leaders and entrepreneurs is that you have the ability to work past the fear and hold on to your vision. If you have identified that the people on your team aren’t acting like they are on YOUR team, then you need to take action! Here are some tips to address pitfalls common to leaders and entrepreneurs to prevent them from becoming huge headaches.
1) Maintaining communication
This is particularly true if you have a small team. A lot of times, business owners and leaders just assume that the team has the same passion for success and are as excited about the business as you are. This is not a safe assumption. Most of your employees are probably not as informed as you think. They’re not mind readers and if you want them to be as enthusiastic as you are, you have to plant the seeds and water them daily. Share your hopes, share your excitement and…
2) Solicit Input
Hopefully you have people working for you whose input you value. If you don’t, it might be worth a look at why that is and whether you have the right people working for you OR whether you might be better off as an Individual contributor rather than a leader with employees reporting to you. If you want your people to care about the organization, the more you ask what they think and implement the more invested they will be.
3) Rigorously address issues
Understatement of the year: Avoidance and denial are not good business tools. Whether you are overlooking sloppy workmanship, trying to see the best in an employee who unenthusiastic in her role or just hoping things get better, failing to address issues can quickly lead to an unbelievable amount of stress on your part. Think of the absolute worst case scenario if you were to have a tough conversation with your employee and NOT having that conversation is guaranteed at least five times worse than that.
4) Keep the big picture in mind
Work ON the business! Yes, there are fires, yes there is the tyranny of the urgent but if you want your business to grow, you need to have a vision and destination. Growth and success are not just they happy by-products of doing all the little things right; instead, you need to be intentional every day about where you are going so you know what little things you should even be doing!
5) Develop your leadership skills
A recent article in Forbes illuminates how extremely important leadership skills by showing that in almost all cases, the skills of the subordinate are always slightly less than their immediate supervisor. That means that if you are at the top, it’s critical that your leadership abilities be top notch! If you don’t feel this is your strong suit, fear not…many of the skills are teachable AND learn-able.
Clearly these are just five points, but if you are diligent about improving you will soon find yourself with much fewer ‘people problems’ and moving much closer to your vision.