Take your business from good to great, not by managing, but by leading your team to success, writes Paul Fagan.
In a recent interview I watched with Sir Richard Branson one quote really stood out for me. He said: “A company is just people.” If you own your own business, or manage a group of people within an organisation, this statement is worth bearing in mind.
When building a successful business, never underestimate the fact that it’s the people behind the brand that matter the most. And it’s how you treat these people as figure heads that will determine how motivated these people will be and how successful your company will be.
GOING FOR GROWTH
Hiring a good team of people is just step one. If your dream team isn’t backed up and guided by strong leadership, the results will be like having a cruise liner sailing the ocean without a rudder.
In order to take your business from good to great, you must share your vision with your team, inspire them to buy into this vision, and provide strong leadership and direction along the way. Your team in turn will help make your business the success you want it to be.
With the exception of the few who are born great leaders, the majority of us needs to nurture the right set of skills to be able to lead well. By properly developing your own leadership skills, and those of your team, you will foster a culture of growth, an environment for success, and a team of ‘can-do’ leaders.
THE POWER OF LEADERSHIP
Most business leaders agree that leadership is the foundation of consistent growth and success in any organisation.
However, while these individuals possess an in-depth knowledge of their industry, their company, and their products and services, very few have the background required to develop leaders within their teams.
… a leader is a person who has a clear vision of where they want to get to, has a defined plan of how to get there, and possesses the ability to inspire …
While each organisation, each team, and each industry are unique in their own ways, all leaders experiences similar challenges.
As a business coach, I’m most often asked to help solve challenges with communication, delegation and inspiration.
Everything has a starting point, and leadership is no different. If you can’t define something, you can’t achieve it.
I recently addressed a room full of company directors, and asked them to define what they believe it means to be a leader. Unsurprisingly I got a large variation in answers.
In fact, if sitting with five different leaders from the same business, I find it’s not uncommon to receive five completely different definitions. With each leader defining leadership in varying ways, it’s no wonder each achieves different results from their teams.
The first step to take with your leadership team is to develop a shared definition of what it means to be a leader in your company.
To me, a leader is a person who has a clear vision of where they want to get to, has a defined plan of how to get there, and possesses the ability to inspire and bring their team on board to help them on this journey towards success.
As a leader, you expect people to follow you. So you need to ask yourself – where are you leading them to? If you were expected to follow someone, you would want to know where you are going. So does your team. Invest the necessary time to consistently identify and share your destination.
When a leader clearly outlines a specified destination, he or she shares vision with all team members.
The success of your company is determined by the strength of your leadership team
Establishing a destination (goals and results) tells the team that they aren’t expected to stay still and that it’s okay to break the status quo in order to achieve the companies shared vision.
It’s the responsibility of the leader to help course-correct the actions of team members along the way. Great levels of growth and success aren’t the results of chasing perfection, but rather pursuing progress. Leaders support their team members, paying careful attention to finding ways to help them achieve greater results for the benefit of all.
LEADERSHIP VS MANAGEMENT
Most leaders have been promoted into a position of leadership, based on their ability to do a great job, not necessarily because of their ability to lead people. As a result many leaders find themselves stuck in the management trap.
In a recent meeting with a management team, I posed the question – “How many people in this room like to be managed?” You may have guessed, nobody raised their hands. Yet, many of them are guilty of managing, rather than leading, their people. Why do something to others that you don’t want done to yourself.
An important tip to remember is: manage the work, but lead the people. You can’t manage your way to success. You must lead your team there. Your team will only settle for management, when you settle for being a manager.
As you take on the responsibility of a true leader, you will inspire your team to follow you, and indeed to become future leaders.
Leaders must constantly: envisage goals, elevate priorities, empower people and exceed expectations When the goal is important enough, you must strive to develop your leadership skills and those of your entire team.
The success of your company is determined by the strength of your leadership team. Always be searching for your next leaders. Great leaders have the ability to transform not only companies, but people’s lives.
KEY TRAITS TO WORK ON IN ORDER TO BECOME A GREAT LEADER:
Dissatisfaction with the boss has been identified as one of the major factors when people consider switching jobs. Create a positive working environment for your team. Appreciate people’s efforts. Be genuine. Have a sense of humour. Offer guidance and advice as needed – your employees should see you as someone they want to learn from and follow.
Define a very clear picture of the future–a vision for the team. Although people may not necessarily like to be managed, they do like to have specific targets. Consider the old expression: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” Journeys without a clear destination leave groups feeling flat and lost.
Individual team members also like to feel like they belong to something bigger. Include your team in regular planning sessions. By involving them in the planning process you will encourage them to buy into your vision. As leader, work with your team to create and recreate the vision and team spirit that stops people from losing heart and becoming lost.
A good leader knows that achieving higher levels of innovation and success requires team members to be unafraid to express unusual ideas and advocate experimental processes. Encourage innovation and risk-taking by thanking those who come up with new ideas to achieve your ultimate vision.
5. Show discipline
Leaders of high-performing teams do not tolerate players who pull the team apart. Resolve any problems while they’re still fresh. Reprimand in private, do not humiliate in public. Give them a chance to explain. If necessary don’t be afraid to remove people who are failing to help you get the job done.
A good leader stays true to their commitments in order build trust and maintain it. Whether or not something is in your personal best interests, in some cases should be irrelevant if it doesn’t reflect your integrity as a leader; you need to be a role model for your workforce.
The standard of successful leadership has shifted from exerting authority to influencing people. Think about actions you can take in order to be a more influential leader.