By Jeff Dewing CEO of CloudFm and No1. best-selling business author and podcaster
Launching a business and managing a business are two different things. Starting is the easy part, growing and maintaining is the tricky bit. You can’t just sit back and expect your company to flourish itself, you need to put in the work. There are various aspects that need attention and one of the most important elements is leadership. Running a company without good leadership is like drawing blood from a stone.
Leadership is far more than just assigning tasks and giving people responsibilities. It’s all about empowerment and going above and beyond to equip your staff with everything they need to succeed.
The best leaders inspire and help staff reach their full potential in order for them to thrive in every way. It’s important to remember leadership status is earned, not claimed. Here are some tips on how to be a better leader:
- Have a clear purpose & values
What is your why? If you’ve already got on lock the very reason this business exists, you just need to make sure that purpose is clear and understandable to anyone you announce it to.
The purpose and values should resonate with anyone you choose to bring on the journey with you. If the people you surround yourself with (employees) do not believe in the purpose, the business will find it difficult to become sustainable. Whereas, if you hire people who align with those values and are behind the purpose they are more likely to be fulfilled and driven.
It’s important to note creating a vision and being confident in it is not enough. Effective leaders need to whole-heartedly believe in their own vision first, communicate it effectively and be able to inspire staff to embrace it. This will keep your team engaged and determined to accomplish their goals. Having clear values not only pushes the business forward and creates a purpose-driven organisation, but it also ensures that all employees are working together towards a common business goal.
- Know your staff & create a good environment
A discussion with your employees once or twice a year simply isn’t good enough to guide them. Leaders must be willing to support and inspire them throughout their journeys by having regular meaningful conversations. A leader has two ears and one mouth. This is because we need to listen twice as much as we speak. Understand staff like your family – know their work challenges, as well as personal and life challenges and genuinely care about them and their interests. What are their kids’ names? How many pets do they have? What are their passions and hobbies? What inspires them? It may seem insignificant but it’s important. You can’t lead someone properly if you can’t connect with them and if you don’t know what drives them.
Also, emotional intelligence is key. With 42% of people believing their work environment is unhealthy and that their managers do not care about their well-being it’s paramount you demonstrate empathy and create a supportive workplace. This will allow staff to be open and honest so you can support them best.
- Never be self-serving
Always put people before profit and above your needs. Leaders’ ultimate objective should be to grow the people around them into being the best they can be.
Great people are the foundation of any successful business and therefore making sure employees are happy benefits you more than them. A company’s main goal should be to look after its employees’ well-being and to understand what they want.
Consider everyone’s individual needs, especially taking into consideration various situations like coming back from maternity leave, dealing with bereavement or recovering from an illness. We recently had instances where a few women were easing back from maternity leave and we offered each of them the flexibility to work a few days a week, the hours dependent on what personally suits them. We worked around them because you are going to get the best out of employees when they have sorted life and are happy.
- Empower & promote freedom
How do you spot a leader in a meeting? He or she is asking the important questions and not giving any answers. A great leader helps their team find the answers. If a leader instructs or states the answer, they are accountable. If it goes wrong, it was your answer or your instruction. The rest of the team become no different to robots acting out your orders and where is the value-add in that? It is far better to instead trust and empower staff enabling them to make their own decisions.
Another way of promoting freedom is by providing flexibility. This means staff can work around appointment clashes like school runs and doctors’ appointments; or choose their location and setting – i.e., working remotely in another city or place. This empowers employees by allowing them to make their own choices and plan their workday accordingly to fulfil their needs.
People don’t care about what you say but what you do. So, ditch the empty words and instead lead by example from management down. Behaviour can have a domino effect on the rest of the wider team, so make sure you are passing on healthy habits and practices rather than negative ones.
Also, it’s important you don’t neglect your mental and physical health. Take care of yourself not only to let employees know how crucial it is to prioritise their health too, but it means you are best placed to help others and lead effectively.
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