Leading teams. These two words that have the power to excite or evoke fear in someone's heart.
Let's look at the word "lead." According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the various definitions include "to guide on a way especially by going in advance" or "to direct on a course or in a direction." Based on this, if we are business owners, we ARE leaders. It is our responsibility to guide and direct our team. The problem is that many aren't sure exactly how to lead a team, and it becomes a "trial and error" effort. This is counter-productive when we want to be focused on building a strong business. Becoming an effective leader of a team takes time, so lets explore 3 big keys that can be immediately implemented.
Be a Role Model. Your team is only going to move as fast as you do. It's up to you to set the pace and articulate the expectations. You never want to ask your team to do something that you aren't willing to do yourself.
Stay focused on the growth of your business and allow others to watch how you accomplish it. However I must say that you should never insist that someone runs his or her own business in a certain manner. While it's your job to be a role model, it's your team's job to decide whether or not your method is a good fit for them...and it may not be. Do NOT be offended if that's the case as we are all individuals.
As a role model, it's also important that you don't freely give away all of your knowledge acquired by your continued learning. Your knowledge is very valuable, but it's important that your team members put "skin in the game" if they are going to be successful in their own right.
Set boundaries. Oh boy...I could write a book on this one area alone and fill it with mistakes that I've personally made and lessons that I've learned. Remember as you lead your team, you are also teaching them how to potentially lead theirs. Don't take this lightly. You have the ability to pass along great habits or habits that will leave them feeling as though they're in bondage. It is entirely possible to have a successful business and a successful life, but only if you set boundaries along with work hours.
You cannot and should not make yourself available to your team 24/7...regardless of what others teach. It's a sure-fire way to lead to burnout. Repeat after me: One-to-many. One-to-Many. ONE-TO-MANY! What does this model mean? It means that you no longer communicate with individuals via text or private email. It means that you no longer have an open-door policy for receiving phone calls.
So if you are accustomed to the one-to-one model, how do you transition away from it? It's actually rather simple. When you need to communicate with your team, you do it in a Facebook group. When someone has a question and emails you, you graciously tell them to post it in your Facebook group so everyone can benefit from the answer. When you have something that you need to talk about, utilize a video or have a group call that you record. If people aren't used to this method, they may not be happy at first, but I promise that they will adapt if you are consistent with your boundaries.
Be careful not to manage. There is a difference between leading and managing. To lead is to have followers. To manage means that you have subordinates who do what they are told and you check up on them. You want to groom powerful leaders who can help change peoples lives, all while building their business and ultimately yours! Telling people what to do is not inspirational and creates dependency. I consider it the adult equivalent to breast-feeding. Instead give them the tools and point them to the resources, but allow people to be individuals and make their own decisions. Allow them to make mistakes and figure things out. A great book on this very subject is Failing Forward by John C. Maxwell. I definitely recommend it.
In short, by holding yourself to your own standards and expectations of others, you will become a great leader. By being a role model, setting boundaries, and not managing others, you'll find freedom in leading. Ultimately your leadership will result in others going on to lead as well. Trust me when I say, there is nothing more satisfying than birthing a leader and watching that person go on to birth their own.
Article originally posted here. Copyright 2014.