It has been said that it is lonely at the top, and sometimes for good reason. Business owners often become so singularly focused on the success of the organization that they lose sight of what it means to lead effectively. Managing people is never easy, especially when surrounded by different personality types. However, there are steps that a leader can take to assure that processes run smoothly, employees remain engaged, and a certain amount of respect and admiration threads through the company. Proprietors would do well to examine their strengths and weaknesses, focusing on maximizing the former and minimizing the latter.
Unless you’re a one-person operation, employees factor into your business equation, and odds are slim that they all share the same philosophies that you do. View those differences as a manageable challenge. Learning to rally the troops around common goals requires a bit of self-centeredness and a bit of selflessness. The skills you’ve acquired in the ascent to ownership have served you well. The focus on your own goals should now give way to transferring your positive traits to your team. While you may recognize deficiencies in some of your underlings, heaping destructive criticism on those folks may not be good for morale. Being tabbed as a terrible boss creates dissension among the ranks and detracts from that team spirit. Once that unity is dissolved, it becomes difficult to piece together again without considerable effort. Take steps to make your employees feel valued and that respect will become infectious.
If you conduct thorough interviews, have confidence that your hiring decisions are solid ones. Compiling the right team is essential to success. While you almost always experience trial and error with employees, lengthening the leash goes a long way in building trust. Bringing in employees signals that you can’t do everything yourself. So learn to let go and delegate. No worker wants every task scrutinized by the boss. It harbors feelings of resentment, a sense that the person you’ve brought into the fold is incapable. Mistakes happen and from those, you recover and your employees hopefully learn. Let your people do what they do best. That faith creates significant returns on the investment you’ve made in human capital.
The Proverbial Tight Ship
It is one thing to be a tolerant boss. It is quite another to be perceived as a softie, a leader who does too much to accommodate everyone and anything. The respect you gain through trust can be easily undermined by letting employees walk all over you. There must be clear expectations around employee behavior. It is fine to cut a staff member loose 20 minutes early so he or she can get to a daughter’s dance recital once in a while. However, allowing another employee to be habitually late sends the wrong message, opening a crack that may form an abyss into which others fall. Be consistent with policy enforcement and know when to take corrective measures. From discipline or praise, admiration naturally follows.