I’ve been trying to provide some basic lessons in business and leadershipthat have helped me be successful. They might seem simple but they’ve come after mistakes and significant learning along the way.
Believe me, building a business is not easy. It’s certainly not as simple as setting up the right structure, establishing a culture and then magically achieving profits. A CEO, manager or anyone in a leadership position must be able to think beyond her own day-to-day responsibilities and get her team members to maximize their potential.
Help Your People Succeed
The role of an organization’s leadership is to remove the barriers to its people’s success as much as possible. After all, nobody wants to do a poor job. Nobody wants to go to work and hate what they’re doing or feel like they’re running into a brick wall every day. They want to be productive and do things that move the needle. The role of a leader is to get rid of the stuff that prevents them from doing their jobs. What might that look like?
- Someone in the wrong role. They’re smart and talented but the job doesn’t match their skills or temperament.
- Broken processes. People can’t do great work if the system their working in is inefficient, suffocating, exhausting or otherwise.
- Limited resources. Startups have to be scrappy no doubt, but even the best people need tools and resources to help them get things done.
- Competing priorities. A team can’t move in the same direction if leadership isn’t providing a united vision.
Fixing this stuff isn’t necessarily easy. If it were, a lot more startups and small businesses would survive past 3 or 5 years. But those leaders who can get it right will have employees coming to work every day ready to give their all and make an impact. Beyond that, each employee can make a greater impact if the things that might block them are gone.
Identify and Dismantle Your Organization’s Barriers
The first step to removing barriers is to discover them. In this situation, the phrase “Communication is key” couldn’t be more on point. Every business publication is producing article after article about employee engagement and communication. As they should. If you’re not talking with your employees regularly, you’re missing out on key data. Regular meetings and open dialogue can help you figure out where a person’s stucks are — in a process, with a coworker, with you. And only when those things are brought to light can managers make effective change. To paraphrase Muhammad Ali, you can’t hit what you can’t see.
From there, prioritize where to start. What change will make the biggest impact for your business? Is a role change the best move or do you need to find budget for some new resources for your team? Or do you need to rethink your communication style and get people pointed in the same direction?
As a leader, these answers are yours to make alone and they can decide whether your company thrives or folds.