Having a great idea, and assembling a team to bring that concept to life is the first step in creating a successful business venture. While finding a new and unique idea is rare enough; the ability to successfully execute this idea is what separates the dreamers from the entrepreneurs. However you see yourself, whatever your age may be, as soon as you make that exciting first hire, you have taken the first steps in becoming a powerful leader. When money is tight, stress levels are high, and the visions of instant success don’t happen like you thought, it’s easy to let those emotions get to you, and thereby your team. Take a breath, calm yourself down, and remind yourself of the leader you are and would like to become. Here are some key qualities that every good leader should possess, and learn to emphasize.
Whatever ethical plane you hold yourself to, when you are responsible for a team of people, its important to raise the bar even higher. Your business and its employees are a reflection of yourself, and if you make honest and ethical behavior a key value, your team will follow suit.
As we do at RockThePost, the crowdfunding platform for entrepreneurs and small businesses I co-founded, try to make a list of values and core beliefs that both you and your brand represent, and post this in your office. Promote a healthy interoffice lifestyle, and encourage your team to live up to these standards. By emphasizing these standards, and displaying them yourself, you will hopefully influence the office environment into a friendly and helpful workspace.
Ability to Delegate
Finessing your brand vision is essential to creating an organized and efficient business, but if you don’t learn to trust your team with that vision, you might never progress to the next stage. Its important to remember that trusting your team with your idea is a sign of strength, not weakness. Delegating tasks to the appropriate departments is one of the most important skills you can develop as your business grows. The emails and tasks will begin to pile up, and the more you stretch yourself thin, the lower the quality of your work will become, and the less you will produce.
The key to delegation is identifying the strengths of your team, and capitalizing on them. Find out what each team member enjoys doing most. Chances are if they find that task more enjoyable, they will likely put more thought and effort behind it. This will not only prove to your team that you trust and believe in them, but will also free up your time to focus on the higher level tasks, that should not be delegated. It’s a fine balance, but one that will have a huge impact on the productivity of your business.
Knowing what you want accomplished may seem clear in your head, but if you try to explain it to someone else and are met with a blank expression, you know there is a problem. If this has been your experience, then you may want to focus on honing your communication skills. Being able to clearly and succinctly describe what you want done is extremely important. If you can’t relate your vision to your team, you won’t all be working towards the same goal.
Training new members and creating a productive work environment all depend on healthy lines of communication. Whether that stems from an open door policy to your office, or making it a point to talk to your staff on a daily basis, making yourself available to discuss interoffice issues is vital. Your team will learn to trust and depend on you, and will be less hesitant to work harder.
Sense of Humor
If your website crashes, you lose that major client, or your funding dries up, guiding your team through the process without panicking is as challenging as it is important. Morale is linked to productivity, and it’s your job as the team leader to instill a positive energy. That’s where your sense of humor will finally pay off. Encourage your team to laugh at the mistakes instead of crying. If you are constantly learning to find the humor in the struggles, your work environment will become a happy and healthy space, where your employees look forward to working in, rather than dreading it. Make it a point to crack jokes with your team and encourage personal discussions of weekend plans and trips. It’s these short breaks from the task at hand that help keep productivity levels high and morale even higher.
At RockThePost, we place a huge emphasis on humor and a light atmosphere. Our office is dog friendly, and we really believe it is the small, light hearted moments in the day that help keep our work creative and fresh. One tradition that we like to do and brings the team closer is we plan a fun prank on all new employees, on their first day. It breaks the ice and immediately creates that sense of familiarity.
There may be days where the future of your brand is worrisome and things aren’t going according to plan. This is true with any business, large or small, and the most important thing is not to panic. Part of your job as a leader is to put out fires and maintain the team morale. Keep up your confidence level, and assure everyone that setbacks are natural and the important thing is to focus on the larger goal. As the leader, by staying calm and confident, you will help keep the team feeling the same. Remember, your team will take cues from you, so if you exude a level of calm damage control, your team will pick up on that feeling. The key objective is to keep everyone working and moving ahead.
If you expect your team to work hard and produce quality content, you’re going to need to lead by example. There is no greater motivation than seeing the boss down in the trenches working alongside everyone else, showing that hard work is being done on every level. By proving your commitment to the brand and your role, you will not only earn the respect of your team, but will also instill that same hardworking energy among your staff. It’s important to show your commitment not only to the work at hand, but also to your promises. If you pledged to host a holiday party, or uphold summer Fridays, keep your word. You want to create a reputation for not just working hard, but also be known as a fair leader. Once you have gained the respect of your team, they are more likely to deliver the peak amount of quality work possible.
You want to keep your team motivated towards the continued success of the company, and keep the energy levels up. Whether that means providing snacks, coffee, relationship advice, or even just an occasional beer in the office, remember that everyone on your team is a person. Keep the office mood a fine balance between productivity and playfulness.
If your team is feeling happy and upbeat, chances are they won’t mind staying that extra hour to finish a report, or devoting their best work to the brand.
Some decisions will not always be so clear-cut. You may be forced at times to deviate from your set course and make an on the fly decision. This is where your creativity will prove to be vital. It is during these critical situations that your team will look to you for guidance and you may be forced to make a quick decision. As a leader, its important to learn to think outside the box and to choose which of two bad choices is the best option. Don’t immediately choose the first or easiest possibility; sometimes its best to give these issues some thought, and even turn to your team for guidance. By utilizing all possible options before making a rash decision, you can typically reach the end conclusion you were aiming for.
When leading a team through uncharted waters, there is no roadmap on what to do. Everything is uncertain, and the higher the risk, the higher the pressure. That is where your natural intuition has to kick in. Guiding your team through the process of your day-to-day tasks can be honed down to a science. But when something unexpected occurs, or you are thrown into a new scenario, your team will look to you for guidance. Drawing on past experience is a good reflex, as is reaching out to your mentors for support. Eventually though, the tough decisions will be up to you to decide and you will need to depend on your gut instinct for answers. Learning to trust yourself is as important as your team learning to trust you.
Ability to Inspire
|Creating a business often involves a bit of forecasting. Especially in the beginning stages of a startup, inspiring your team to see the vision of the successes to come is vital. Make your team feel invested in the accomplishments of the company. Whether everyone owns a piece of equity, or you operate on a bonus system, generating enthusiasm for the hard work you are all putting in is so important. Being able to inspire your team is great for focusing on the future goals, but it is also important for the current issues. When you are all mired deep in work, morale is low, and energy levels are fading, recognize that everyone needs a break now and then. Acknowledge the work that everyone has dedicated and commend the team on each of their efforts. It is your job to keep spirits up, and that begins with an appreciation for the hard work.|
So much change in the world. The planet is experiencing decay. Old-school business organizations are becoming obsolete. Nations + economies are in decline. And the very nature of how we function as human beings is being reworked + rewired… Which brings me to power… …the traditional idea of power is all about externals: you get this type of power when you make enough cash and secure the right amount of fame and get the right houses and receive the big title. …Currently, our world celebrates this form of power. And the vast majority of people in our world still crave it. [I’ve never cared so little about it; been there, got the t-shirt, didn’t mean much].
The problem with external power is that it never brings enduring happiness. And it doesn’t really make us better people. And it rarely lifts the world. There’s another type of power I encourage you to play with and seriously think about: Inner Power. On his death, Mahatma Gandhi left behind merely his glasses, his sandals, a spinning wheel and his watch along with a few other simple possessions. But he had this kind of power in multiples. So he influenced the generations. Inner power. We all can access it–and if we want, refine it, stoke it, polish it and radiate it… This is the power of a strong character + an honest tongue + a creative mind + a wide open heart + a spirit that lives for a cause larger than itself. And the uber-cool thing is that when you train in the releasing of this type of power, you not only find an illustrious happiness (and real success) but who you become automatically unchains the same potential within everyone else who inhabits your social group. [You’ve gotta read Connected by Nicholas Christakis].
Remember Marianne Williamson’s quote in her awesome book A Return to Love?… “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world…and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” So inner power truly is available to each person walking the planet today. This is the only true power–and the one that delivers lasting happiness, profound fulfillment, boundless energy and a world free of hate/war/destruction/decline. So…how do you kindle the fire of inner power?
Summit #1: Thinking. It seems like a platitude but it’s truth too: your thinking creates your world. Starting to run the new belief that you’re not a victim and that within you this very moment lies a kingdom of pure power is a game-changer. How do you make this thinking your new default? Like most other skills you practice it–every day.
Summit #2: Intention. Your dominant thinking will then generate new intentions. These are your drives + desires + motivations. These are the internal fuels that give birth to big results down the road. The clearer your intentions, the more breathtaking their products become.
Summit #3: Volition. Your intentions give rise to your volition–your choices. Choices made from a place of owning and then standing in your inner power are so much more beautiful and inspirational for those around you to watch than those coming from a place of fear and weakness. Get your choices aligned with your authentic greatness and you’ll leave your small, scared you in the dust. Forever.
Summit #4: Responsibility. APR is the acronym I teach to my clients: Absolute Personal Responsibility. When you stop giving away your inner power by making excuses, blaming others and playing “poor me”, you take the power you gave your problems back…and become more powerful. So after making better choices in your behavior, you’ll find you begin to assume better responsibility over your life. This is when we really grow up. We experience a vast awakening…and fully understand that all that isn’t world-class in our world is not because of the world. It’s due to us.
Summit #5: Performance. With “a way of being” called personal responsibility set as our human operating software, we’re then amped for elite performance, no matter where you live and what you do. Whether you’re a teacher or a preacher or an astronaut or a baker, you rise to doing wow-level work. You’ll amaze those who witness you. You’ll get “scary good” at your craft. You’ll spill ridiculous amounts of value into your marketplace. You’ll also discover seemingly superhuman reserves of energy, ingenuity, bravery + compassion enter into your days.
Summit #6: Influence. The final result of climbing this vertical path? Simple: you brilliantly affect others. Your inner power becomes contagious. Their mirror neurons model your example. Their belief in their own gifts + talents + potential grows. Their hearts open too. And you truly leverage your life to raise the world. Written By My Guru Robin Sharma