The Issue with Owners
All business owners are faced with a variety of challenges every day. If I were to ask a group of business owners to list their biggest challenges, the ones they struggle with, the list would be long.
However, all business owners, in corporate and personal life, are in somewhat different situations.
- Some are start-ups and others are close to retirement, while most are somewhere between those two extremes.
- Some are struggling to get enough sales volume to stay in business and others are very profitable, while the majority are spread out along the line between break-even and very profitable.
- Some have technical challenges, production challenges, office challenges or financial challenges.
- Some have staffing challenges: Hiring, training, motivating and firing challenges.
- And I could fill this article by just listing the challenges facing you — so I’ll just stop here.
But overriding the challenges I mentioned and alluded to previously, there is one challenge that, if it is overcome, is a game changer. It is the challenge of becoming a real leader, one who can really work well with teams and manage time so the work gets done.
I can’t overstate the importance of this topic because, as the owner becomes a better leader, he becomes better able to manage all the other challenges that arise. This is because a better leader has time management skills and, therefore, has the time to do a better, more complete job and is able to better delegate tasks to ensure those delegated tasks are done properly.
Please note that I am including “outsourced” tasks in the same category as “internally delegated” tasks.
We often think of leadership, working with a team and time management as three distinctly different qualities, but they are all part of the whole leadership package. A true leader must integrate them together much like a great football team integrates offense, defense and special teams. A team that wants to win the Super Bowl needs to excel at all, and you, if you truly want to succeed, must be great at leading the team and managing your time.
A team is different from a group
While a group is sort of formless and indecisive, a team is typically created for a specific purpose. It can stay together in the short or long term, but if it is to be effective, each member of the team must know the team’s purpose and goals. For instance, a cardiac surgery team has a specific purpose, which is to perform cardiac surgery. And it has a specific goal, which is to have its patient survive the surgery and return to a normal life quickly. That team could have the same team members for a day or several years, depending on a number of circumstances.
The leader’s toolbox
A team must have a leader; otherwise, it is just a group or a mob. Just as a carpenter uses many tools, an effective leader uses a large toolbox to help the team attain its goals.
Instead of hammers, screwdrivers, drills and levels, the team leader uses the following:
Purpose, goals and action steps
Unless the team knows and understands its purpose, it will be difficult to function and get real, positive results. The purpose then creates the goals, which then create the action steps to meet the goals and realize the purpose. Of course, the team leader has to have delegation skills to appoint team members who perform their parts of the action steps.
The effective leader communicates well with the team using a “4 C” strategy: The leader’s communications are concise, clear, consistent and constant.
The leader communicates constantly; the message is consistent, so the team gets the same message each time. The message is clear, so misunderstandings are few to non-existent. And it is concise, so the listeners don’t become disengaged (watch for rolling eyes and listen for long sighs).
Team leaders should have expectations of success in the task: “I expect this task will take one week;” “I expect John to arrive at 10 a.m.;” “I expect the workroom to be cleaned up at the end of the day;” etc. Be sure to use clear and concise communications, so the team knows what to expect.
These are designed to inform team members of their limits. Budgets, staffing needs and time constraints are examples of boundaries.
The leader must seek to build consensus among the team so it becomes more enthusiastic about reaching its goals. There’s nothing more demoralizing to a team than lacking consensus and subsequently missing the goals expected of them.
Metrics are created to measure progress and team member contribution towards success. These metrics are communicated back to the team and the leader by creating feedback loops, so everyone is informed on progress towards completion of action steps and goals.
This must be stressed so the team is efficient. Effective leaders create agendas for all meetings with the team and its members. And remember, it’s fine if many agendas are informal and mental. As a team leader, you must know what you want to meet about, what you want to stress and what you expect as the desired outcome.
As a team leader, acknowledgement of team member success is a must. This will bring much better results than making it seem that all success was because of you. Respect your team members, and have consideration of their emotions.
Leading a team is not about screaming and intimidation.
Once the leader has earned the team’s respect and trust, it’s all about communicating expectations and ensuring that those expectations are met — and celebrating every time you win.
Larry Galler works with business owners to create management and marketing breakthroughs. Sign up to subscribe to his weekly newsletter and newspaper column at www.larrygaller.com.
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February 21, 2023