Editor’s note: An expert at conflict resolution and team building, Family Business Advisor Kyle Danner provides leaders and teams the tools, strategies and processes needed to control and grow family businesses. In this article, Kyle outlines three strategies to make your leadership team better. Connect with Kyle here.
Recently, I was working with a business owner and his leadership team. A visionary entrepreneur, he had trouble communicating his vision. It was so clear in his mind, but just like an artist using words to describe a painting, his words couldn’t capture the full picture.
Leadership Is Clearly Communicating Vision To Your Team
As he struggled to paint the picture, he grew more passionate. His passion turned to frustration. The frustration wasn’t with his team. It was with himself. Because he couldn’t clearly share his vision, he saw himself failing. And worse, he was concerned the intensity of words sounded like he was criticizing his team.
I’ve seen this before in entrepreneurs and business owners. I saw it in my family’s business. I’ve experienced it in my business.
Once we had a chance to talk about what he was experiencing, I suggested that we check in with the team. They understood his frustration and they weren’t taking it personally.
How One Leader Made His Team Better
Discussing his frustrations with his team was irritating for the visionary leader, but it was extremely beneficial for the team. Here are three things he did that made his leadership team even better.
He owned up to his mistakes, including a recent hiring mistake and his failure to adequately support a loyal team member. For trust to exist, leaders must be vulnerable with their team members. That includes admitting your mistakes.
Being vulnerable can be uncomfortable. It feels like being naked in public or going to school in your underwear. However, when business owners model vulnerability, they reinforce trust among their team. This, in turn, encourages them to be open with one another.
Attach the issue.
Accountability was a major issue in this client’s organization, mostly due to a lack of structure, including well-documented processes. That’s common in a fast-growing company like this one. When a problem isn’t tackled head-on, it festers and transforms into a much bigger issue, making it more difficult to resolve.
While the leader felt like he was attacking his team, he really was attacking the issue. And by attacking the issue, he and the team set priorities. They decided to document key processes for the next quarter. It was a crucial step in creating accountability everyone agreed they needed.
When small problems occur in business, it’s tempting to push them under the rug. But imagine what might have happened if this visionary leader didn’t address his frustration. Eventually, that unresolved frustration may have been redirected to his teammates. His leadership team may have expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of progress.
It’s always better to get ahead of an issue before it leads to a blowout.
Show genuine concern.
Leaders say they care, but that’s not always the case. The boss says he puts employees first, but his words and actions say otherwise. With this leader, it was different. You could feel how much he cared when he talked.
He cared about his team. He cared about the people who worked for his company. He cared about his customers. The company grew 20 percent in one year because he cared. And because he cared, his leadership team did, too.
Think about the way that he made sure the team knew they weren’t the cause of his frustration. That simple action told them, “I care about how you feel, and I want you to know this is a safe place.”
A business is only as successful as its employees. If you want to grow your business, you must be vulnerable with your team, attack the issues and not your people, and show them that their thoughts, opinions, and feelings matter.
As Professional EOS Implementer® Kyle Danner helps family business owners navigate the unique challenges that come with mixing family and business. EOS®, the Entrepreneurial Operating System®, provides a structure and process to help business owners and their leadership teams clarify, simplify, and achieve their vision for the business.