A word that comes up consistently for me in 2018 is LEADERSHIP.
Want to build a better business? You need to be built a great team and building a great team requires a focus on building great leaders.
This means that your first priority is to improve your own leadership skills because your team and your business will never outgrow your leadership. Your second priority is to build the leadership of your team. Identify key roles within your business and the people that can step into those roles. If you don’t have those people right now then it’s time to either recruit them or my preferred method, train them.
How do you develop a leader? I often get people telling me there’s no-one in their team that can lead. No-one that has the skill-sets or the leadership capability to step up and take command. I have to be honest here, that’s not true. If your team don’t have any leadership qualities then you have failed them because a leaders main role is to develop other leaders and you have failed to do that.
People will never gain leadership capabilities if you don’t give them the opportunity to lead. This means give them the space to make decisions, the space to make mistakes and the opportunity to learn from those mistakes. Far too regularly I will hear of situations where someone complains they don’t have anyone with leadership capabilities. They then allow their team to make decisions but as soon as a mistake is made they jump up and down and make comments like ‘If you want something done you’re better off to do it yourself.’
Great philosophy – if you don’t want to grow, if you want to be constantly doing things yourself and if you want to undermine your team so they never step outside the guidelines set by you. They will never think outside the box, they will never grow.
As humans we learn by doing things. We make mistakes. We adjust our actions to avoid making that mistake again and therefore we improve. We have to get things wrong before we have the skills and experience to get them right. If you’re not allowing your team that space to learn and grow then of course they won’t have leadership capabilities.
To make yourself out to be the only one who can do things within your business or workplace is a massive ego boost. You like the fact that you feel wanted and needed if the job’s to be done correctly. That’s a great if you want a small business that relies on you and can never outgrow you. But if you want growth and you want to be a part of a high performing team then you have to put your ego aside, take your hands from around the throat of your team and let them breath. When given the opportunity, people will grow into the people you allow them to be. People want to feel like they contribute, like they’re significant. People love coming to work when they know they’re important to the business and they get to make decisions which directly reflects in the success of the project, job or business they’re involved in. People want to grow. You just have to allow them to.
In short, if you want to improve anything in 2018 my tip is to focus on leadership and start with yourself. Then focus on guiding and building a leadership group within your team. Get them the training they need and let go of the need too be right and to have it done your way. Truly great leaders are focused on the outcome more than ensuring their team reach the outcome in exactly the manner they themselves would have reached it.
As a leader your role is to develop your leaders. The role of your leaders is build relationships and develop the standards and culture within the rest of your team and your teams role is to be really good at what they do so that your customers receive the experience they deserve and pay for.
You can spend all the money in the world on marketing, you can have a great product but if you don’t have a great team who love what they do then the customer experience is still likely to be very poor. I learnt this from good friend, business guru and coffee king Phil DiBella. He focused on building a great culture in his business and every time you walked into the DiBella Roasting Warehouse the enthusiasm within his team was palpable. You could literally feel how excited and motivated people were to be there. They were happy.
Compare that to cafes you walk into where the wait staff barely acknowledge you and it seems that taking your order is a real chore. How do you feel?
Phil DiBella realised that it wasn’t all about the coffee. It was about the way you felt when you walked into and out of his business. The fact that he sold great coffee was an added benefit.
So it’s over to you. What will you do differently with your business and your team this year? How much have you put in the budget to develop your leaders? How much have you put in your budget for marketing? I’ll bet there’s a real mismatch there. Maybe it’s time to focus on what’s important, not simply attracting new clients but building a culture and team that makes clients want to come back time and time again.