If you have the notion, ambition, and capital to plan and follow-through with starting a new business, you’ve only taken the first few steps. To scale and achieve longevity, you have to lead intelligently.
It’s not enough to hold the title of a leader. The way you lead needs to be efficient for today’s lightspeed working pace, human-centric but in step with technology, and flexible enough to satisfy the ever-changing face of the gig economy.
Here are some ways you can improve your leadership skills and make yourself more effective as a leader.
1. Be a nurturer, not a tyrant
Your team members shouldn’t be afraid to talk to you. If they are, you may become dissociated with what’s going on in your area. You will also foster resentment and risk losing your best people. Keep an open door policy so people feel welcome to approach you with concerns. Providing an open and warm attitude line of communication so people feel like they can come to you is critical and will help you stay informed. Praise in public, criticize in private. And aim to support, not control.
2. Encourage Growth
Invest your time as a leader in promoting growth for your team members, personally as well as professionally. Have emotional intelligence and stay connected with those under you in a genuine way.
Being a cheerleader is good, but providing resources for people to learn, and caring about the job (and life) trajectory of your employees, is great. Hire people smarter than you. Don’t shy away from the front lines. And never veto an opportunity for expansion.
3. Have crystal clear expectations.
Your team should have a clear idea of your visions and end-game goals. You don’t want your workers expending their efforts on something that you don’t consider important toward achieving your business goals because you were unclear about what you seek to accomplish.
Set well-defined, attainable goals for your employees and yourself. Touch base with your team sporadically by holding regular team meetings. Use the time to update your staff about what is and isn’t working in terms of meeting benchmarks, and try to always be transparent about your vision so there’s less chance of misunderstandings later.
4. Be open to new ideas and change.
As a leader, you should value your team. Welcome their constructive criticism about the way things are done, including feedback about your own performance as a leader. Keep abreast of the micro and macro workings and changes going on around you.
If a team member feels like something isn’t working, they should feel comfortable telling you, and confident you will take appropriate steps to remedy the situation, or at least take an intentioned, open-minded look at their concerns.
5. Don’t boss, coach.
Your individual team members can’t improve their own performance if all you do is make demands and bark orders. Teaching is a little trickier than being a bossy boss, but it will produce the actual results you may have kept demanding before, ironically.
Give a man a fish, and you have fed him once. Teach him how to fish and you have fed him for a lifetime. That old axiom applies to business principles, too. The more your employees understand not only how to do their job, but why they are doing it that way, the more engaged, autonomous and happy they will become. Eventually, that will show up in the metrics.
With great power comes great responsibility. As a child we are told to treat others as we would like to be treated. The way you treat others has a domino effect on your organization, and you are the first domino to be nudged. It comes with the territory. You are a leader, not a figurehead. So if you want to be a good leader, expect that nudge to come. Be ready to go, and point yourself in the right direction. The resulting cascade effect will be a positive event for everyone.