Business is tricky. You’re taught young that business is business – Check your emotions at the door. But recent years have proven that business is more than an emotionally devoid institution run for profits. Business is about making an impact on the world, and if you want to make an impact on the world, you have to start with your team. Because if your team isn’t willing to follow you, why should anyone else?
The good news is you can become a leader worth following with these five simple practices. If you make these five attributes your guiding values, you’ll find your team working harder and being more productive than ever before.
Integrity has become a buzzword over the past couple of years, but few people actually know what it means. This word has two definitions: Being honest and being whole or undivided. Leading with that definition, here are a couple ways you can go about implementing integrity into your daily action.
Leading with integrity starts with keeping your word. If something happens and you need to change your plans, be clear and direct with your team. Likewise, when you need to change directions, always make the shift a bigger win than the original plan. By making a change to something that’s advantageous to everyone, you maintain your team’s loyalty.
You should also build your company culture around teamwork and reward positive team interactions. A business that fosters emotional support and inclusivity is a business that incites creativity, innovation, and hard work. Whenever you create rewards for specific behaviors, you communicate to your team that those are the values you uphold, which are the same values that will help them move forward in the business.
Two of the greatest values in today’s workforce are time and emotional intelligence. Employees are looking to work for companies and business owners who are not only having a positive impact in the world, but who are also generous with their time and praise. Your employees want to do an excellent job for you. The more generous you are with your time and praise, the more reasons they’ll give you to compliment them.
To implement generosity on a consistent basis, start scheduling in praise time. Take an hour or two per week to tell your team what they’re excelling at. The more individual attention you can give each person, the better. You can also institute internal awards your team members can earn. Think employee of the month, but better. These can be for anything that adds value to the business such as ideas, communication, teamwork, collaboration, or problem solving.
“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” – John Holmes
Teams need guidance. Period. There’s a balance between abandoning your team to do things on your own and micromanaging everything they do. The best way to make guidance an integral part of your business is to establish regular check-ins. This allows you to meet with members of your team and see how they’re doing.
They can ask questions, and you can see where they need more support. By implementing this strategy, you help team members to grow their skill set faster and get their emotional buy in. When employees feel supported and cared about, they choose to work harder, produce more, and commit to getting greater results for the company.
Ideas and different perspectives are what keeps a business going for generations. Businesses that become stagnant go the way of Blockbuster. By creating a culture of openness, where team members are encouraged to share their ideas, propose solutions, and try new things, you foster your team’s creativity, innovation, and problem solving skills. This makes communication easier, and helps your team stay on the leading edge of your industry.
If you want to promote openness in your company start by creating regular open office hours. Whether you schedule this weekly or monthly, this gives your team members the opportunity to come talk to you about things they’re working on, problems they’re facing, or ideas they have to strengthen the company. This gives structure to interacting with your team, while making you approachable and relatable.
You also need to find ways to be more inclusive. Do you have an employee with a gluten intolerance who always ends up watching everyone else eat cake during company birthday parties? Do you have a team member who doesn’t like to be touched, so hugs and handshakes make them uncomfortable?
By understanding what makes your team members different and honoring the diversity they bring to the company, you can create a culture of inclusivity that invokes loyalty. For example, if you buy Katey her favorite gluten free cupcakes at parties, and give Brian a nod with an award for an awesome thing he did, you’ve just made each of those team members feel seen, heard, and understood, without lessening the experiences of your other team members. This is leadership at its best.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams
Businesses that last are not run alone. There’s you, the leader and there’s the team that supports you. All of you collaborate to bring your vision to the world. By valuing the collaborative process and getting your team to contribute their unique perspectives, ideas, and brilliance to the mix, you set the business up to scale quicker because there are more opportunities for success.
Teams that fear their leaders will often silence their ideas — ideas that could revolutionize the success of the business. Teams that understand and routinely participate in collaboration are more likely to be supportive, emotionally intelligent, and solve problems faster.