Do you second guess your employees making them feel like they don’t know why you spent so much money in training them? Or are you the leader that shows support, respect and gratitude for everything your employees do. It turns out, the type of manager that you are as a small business owner may dictate your success or failure as a business. You can either be a great leader and watch your business grow and thrive, or you can set up your house of cards and watch it fall.
I look back at all of the bosses and leaders that I had. Looking for those leaders I learned the most from, and where did I thrive as an employee? As I started to study and research human capital, it made me think about where I am today and did I allow one of these leaders to put me here. The result that I come up with is, YES, all of them contributed to who I am today. I bring with me a piece of each one of them. So I want to share the best and worst from bosses in my graveyard and the skills that will help you to be the best leader, creating a successful organization.
Let’s start with some of the worst leadership styles, and end on a positive, best boss ever note. Keep in mind I have had a boss or leader at some point in my long business life that contained each of these proven traits.
The “I am God because I own the business” boss
This is the worst kind of leader. Just because you own a business does not mean that you know everything business management. You may know your product, maybe even your industry, but there are few people that know how to run the whole of a business. Isn’t that why you hire employees. Are your employees spending their time on the clock making personal phone calls, surfing their social media, or just doing whatever it takes to look busy, without actually doing anything. They do this so you can’t come back and blame them for a failure. So you find yourself in need of a bookkeeper, then let them keep the books. If you find yourself spending more than your company can make to stay alive, this would be a great person to help you with your checks and balances. Filing bankruptcy is never a positive final solution to an otherwise great business. I have sat back and watch a leader as he accumulated over 1 million in debt, on a company that brings in less than $4000 a month. When you don’t feel a responsibility to your debtors, it’s time to stop, drop and roll. Get out before the industry sees you as that joke company. Yep you know who you are, and it isn’t God.
The “let’s be best friends” leader
Believe it or not, this style of leadership can have some incredible aspects to it. And may have some successes, but you are in business to make money, not to make friends. This does not mean you can’t have a great relationship with your employees (more on this later), but learning how to put this in perspective is important to your success. We will discuss how to do this in a minute, but for now just note that you can have a great relationship with your employees, and still keep the wheels of business rolling.
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The “do your job so I don’t have to” leader
There are pro’s and con’s to this leadership style. Obviously you hired and trained the best employees. You make sure they stay current on their position. But if you have a shut door process, you are opening a door to mistakes and low quality. This is another leadership style that can be modified just a little bit to create the “best boss ever” leader.
The ”let’s do this together” leader
One of the better types of leaders is one who doesn’t want to do it all, because they really can’t. The do still want to have some control over the growth of their business. So they go out of their way to find great employees and then they take time to work with each one of them, letting them know what their expectations are, and then listen carefully to employee input. Now you can make educated decisions together. Creating a team environment gives each employee power to feel like they are valuable. Taking credit for successes and failures as a team.
So how do we become the best leader for our business? Let’s modify each of our styles of bosses and what we could do to turn a bad into a good, or turn a good into better, and the best.
Communication between yourself and your employees is key to success. It won’t matter how good or bad your employees are, if they don’t understand what is being asked of them, they are more likely to fall under your expectations. Unless you have that one employee who will just go out of their way to perfection, with or without your help. Even then don’t look at their accomplishments with criticism just to feed your own ego. This will come back to knock your house of cards over.
This is a great place to create a “team” environment. Give everyone equal amounts of input value. Explain to each of them, the details of a project or job.
If you are the “God complex” leader and you think you know exactly what needs to be done in every situation, make sure that your directions are clear and concise. If possible, include written step by step directions as to what you expect for every project. This gives your employee a path to follow.
Use this time to not only communicate your expectations on a project, but discuss how you can integrate your ideas on the project in a friendly manner. It is always wise here, to not only talk about your ideas, but talk about any ideas your employees have and how you can work them together to make one great project. It can be a great time to socialize and build your relationships AS A TEAM.
When you are done, give credit for individual achievement and team involvement. If you give yourself equal credit along with your employees, you can build respect between you and your employees. With a supportive and healthy work environment, turn-over of your staff is kept to a minimum saving you money in training cost.
No matter what kind of leader you are, your employees need to have respect for you. If your employees don’t have any respect, they won’t treat your opinion with any seriousness. As a leader, ethics should be a high priority. If you prove to be less than honorable, you clients and your employees will also be less than honorable. Creating an environment where nobody works with integrity or even a sense of focus.
Let’s look at used car dealers. Now there’s an ethical bunch. Their business model actually is a loose/loose whether they have ethics or not. If you are honest and sell the best used cars, so as to get your clients to keep coming back for more. It’s a car, they won’t be back for more anytime soon. So the less reliable the car, the soon they will be back for another one. Now I just bought a car and it was not reliable, am I going back to that guy for another car. NOPE. They rely on one time sales. The more quickies they can get, the higher the profit. In their defense, I bought a used car once from a dealer that went out of his way to get me a great car, at a price I could afford. And then he continued to service it. I loved that car, it was my first purchase I did on my own without a parent.
Don’t treat your employees like a used car salesman. It cost money to train new employees, there is more profit in longevity. Not only do you save money on profits with long term employees, they learn and grow with your business creating more value.
Be SMART with your employees
Look past the personality of leaders for a minute. Be any type of leader you want to be, but follow the Smart leader rules and your employees will create a process you can live with.
S is for specific. Make sure your expectations are very specific. If your staff is clear on what is expected of them, they will find a way to provide exactly what you asked for. If the steps are laid out, then you can hold employees accountable.
M is for Measurable. Make sure your employees know the scope of a project. When employees know the size of a projects expectations, the higher they strive for completion. Especially if you as a leader are giving praise for successes.
A is for achievable and R is for Realistic. Don’t expect more from your employees than can be achieved. When you set an employee up for failure, not only do you get a substandard product back, but you also get an employee who will lower their own standards in order to give you a smaller base to start with. The more you set them up to fail, the lower the success ceiling they will have.
T is for Time. In my opinion, time is one of the most important things you can manage. If a team enjoys their time at work, they have proven results that are higher in quality and quantity. But don’t forget to be realistic and achievable.
The best leaders know how to work with their employees, not against them. They are great managers of time and detail. The know how to be friend and leader without stepping over a line. They are commanders of respect while showing the same in return. They know how to manage product/service and employees to get the highest quality