If you never served as a leader before running your business, you can wind up doing more harm than good when it comes to leading your team. Here are four ways that business owners damage their ability to lead, and tips on how to avoid them:
- The Line Between Boss and Friend is Blurry
When your employees meet for a beer after work, you’re the first one to sign up. You spend almost as much time with some of your staff outside of work as you do at work, and you don’t see anything wrong with that. Except…it’s those people you socialize with that aren’t pulling their weight in the office. You don’t want to offend them by telling them to step up their game, so how do you handle it?
Understandably, you will be close to some of the people you spend so much time with, but if you want to be taken seriously as a leader, you’ll have to keep all your relationships professional. That means no partying with your team or putting yourself in any other situation where your employees will lose respect for you as a leader.
Running a business isn’t a popularity contest. You want your staff to like and respect you, but that doesn’t mean you have to be BFFs.
Book to Read: Robert Kiyosaki’s 8 Lessons in Military Leadership for Entrepreneurs by Robert T. Kiyosaki relates certain military leadership lessons to entrepreneurial leadership. In it, he talks about respect, which is something you must earn from your staff.
- You’re Reluctant to Be Honest in Your Feedback
This pitfall, like the last one, centers around you caring too much about what your employees think. You will have employees who constantly show up late, are subordinate or simply aren’t giving you their all. As their leader, it is your job to tell them where they’re lacking and help them improve.
This doesn’t mean you’re criticizing them; it means you want to help them evolve professionally. So the next time you give an employee an annual review, think twice before you fill it with gold stars. What areas do you feel need improvement? What suggestions can you make for improvement? It’s all in how you deliver the feedback; when done correctly, the employee will be receptive to your comments and want to make changes.
Book to Read: If you’re unsure of how to provide constructive criticism, check out 3000 Power Words and Phrases for Effective Performance Reviews: Ready-to-Use Language for Successful Employee Evaluations by Sandra E. Lamb. In it, you’ll find the appropriate language to communicate what you want without hurting your employee’s feelings.
- Everything is Urgent to You, so You’re a Bit Demanding of Your Staff
This is your business, after all. Every single thing you ask your staff to do is of the essence, and needs to be done yesterday. Only, you notice a wild look in each of your employees’ eyes when you round the corner to dole out yet another assignment.
The truth is: only one thing can be priority at a time. It’s in your — and your team’s — best interest if you sort what you need done in order of priority. You want your employees to completely focus on one task at a time, and not worry about the other 18 things you’ve piled on their list.
Book to Read: Start by sharpening your delegation skills by reading The Truth About Delegation: Grow Your Profits By Leveraging Other’s People Power, Time, & Talents by Yvette Syversen. Once you understand how to delegate tasks, you’ll develop a sense for how to prioritize them.
- You Want to Make Sure Things Get Done Right…So You Watch
You’re what people call a micromanager, and you don’t care. After all, it’s up to you to ensure that projects are completed correctly, right? Wrong. Standing over the shoulder of one of your employees will probably make him do a worse job on his task, not better.
You hired competent people so you wouldn’t have to worry about the caliber of their work. Trust yourself, and trust them to get the work done. There’s always something else you could be working on that only you can handle. Leave the rest to your talented staff.
Book to Read: Understanding how micromanaging is a detriment to your business will make you change your ways. In My Way or the Highway: The Micromanagement Survival Guide by Harry Chambers, you’ll learn the harm micromanaging does, as well as learn better behaviors as a leader.
When it comes to your leadership skills, there’s always room for improvement. Pay attention to how your staff reacts to your management style, and take notes on how you can become a better leader. After all, a team with a strong leader can do more and grow faster.
Do you know of any other books that would be helpful to our readers? If so, share the titles with us in the comment section below.