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Leadership Before Friendship

Leadership Before Friendship

There’s a difference between being a friend and being a leader and knowing the difference means we can create a supportive environment for success, rather than an environment filled with frustration for everyone. Team members lose respect for anyone needing acceptance ahead of results. The line between friendship and “businesship” is what creates a high performance team.

A lack of results in business comes from poor leadership, rather than poor quality staff.  The ability of staff in their role is related to the ability of the leader leading them.  Staff are looking for a supportive and encouraging environment, not the highest paying job.

High staff turn over is often the result of poor leadership.  A supportive, encouraging and fun environment is not the same as becoming best friends with your employees…. Far from it.    It’s important to think about ‘what’s in the best interest of the business’ whilst providing that environment.

A strong Vision means you are well on the way to great leadership. It must be developed by the leader and then ‘sold’ to the team as a purpose, a reason for them to get out of bed each morning.  It must be a vision that is inspiring to all involved, not just a bonus for the boss at the end of the year.  It can be as simple as an agreed incentive for the team, which then can be talked and laughed about along the way.  Or it can be as complex as having a positive impact on the environment – saving our planet.  It simply depends on what your team is looking to achieve and what floats their boat.

Once you have the vision, you must constantly talk about it and focus on it.  There are three key points about the vision to ensure your team have buy-in. 

1) Each team member must have a clear understanding of what is expected of them. Do your employees know what is expected of them, when was the last time you asked them? This is simple to rectify, plan a meeting and communicate it.

2) Each team member must know what they can expect from their team mates and their leader.  It demonstrates to them that they are on an even playing field; they are as important and valuable to the team as each other.  It also tells them that they have a leader who is willing to lead by example.

3) Understanding how their role impacts the vision or the bigger picture, meets the need of significance for each individual – one of the 6 core human needs.  On some level each role in a business is important to the bigger vision, even the cleaner.

Once the above is achieved, it’s time for ACTION!!!  This part of Leadership, I liken to parenting.  It’s a simple analogy. If you’re not a parent, think about a child you know, a nephew or friends child.  If you were raising a child, are you their best friend? Do you do everything they want, when ever they want and how they want?  Do you give them anything they want or say yes just so they like you? Hopefully a good guardian would say NO (Grand parents can say yes). 

On the other hand, do you constantly talk down to them, talk behind their back, say NO to everything just because it wasn’t your idea, reprimand constantly and never reward, expect them to give their whole life, and not give anything in return?  Also, hopefully a good guardian would say NO.  It’s necessary to strike a balance between the two and treat your employees like a guardian would treat a child. 

Creating a supportive and encouraging environment, where it’s safe to try new things, and ok to make mistakes, where if there is something they want to do, and it doesn’t impact the running of the business then say ‘yes’, and save ‘no’ for the big things that do impact the running of the business.  Allow them to speak their opinion and have it heard without reprimand or mocking.  Allow them to make a mistake, so long as they learn from it, so they know how not to do it next time.  Allow them to have fun in an environment that is happy and invites open communication.  It’s about developing them to be the best they can be, through supporting, encouragement, teaching and guiding them. 

Imagine how successful businesses would be if they all adopted this philosophy.  The success of each business would be unimaginable.  So next time as a leader, you have interaction with your team, stop and ask yourself, is this how you would treat your child, niece or nephew, or friend’s child?

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