Stop being an expert from the side lines and join your people at the front line. We have seen more and more how leadership teams are running businesses from ‘Head Office’, detached from their people and their markets. Sure, don’t get me wrong, we need a senior team to set a strategy and direction for the business, but in isolation from its people? How sustainable is that?
This is about the leaders of a business ‘taking up arms’ and joining their teams in the business. Teams and customers need to see ‘real’ leadership in action and understand why those individuals are in the positions that they are. This is a difficult decision and a difficult process to implement, but it is the right decision for your leadership team, your people and your business.
Where do you start? How do you start? Look at the following steps and guidelines that will help you make this transition.
1. Be accessible
This doesn’t mean you have an ‘open door’ policy. It’s about you being in the branches or on the shop floor more than you are in your office and in meetings. What’s more important than being with your people and chatting to customers? I will tell you… nothing!
2. Drop the ego
Leaders fail to realise that the only difference between them and the people working in the heart of their business is the books they’ve read, courses they’ve done and people they’ve met! Not easy to hear, but there is a wealth of knowledge and experience in your business that you aren’t tapping into.
You don’t know it all (even though you think you do) and the way you built your business 15 years ago is very different to the way it should be run now.
3. Learn to trust other people or don’t have any staff
I am sure that if we did a snapshot of most businesses at a values and measurement level, accountability and empowerment would always feature. These are great concepts on paper but almost impossible to embed into your business.
Think back to when you started your business. Make a few mistakes. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve made hundreds. What will make your people any different? Mistakes will happen. That’s how we learn. There was no one around to tear a strip off you when you built your business, so what gives you the right to do it to others?
4. Guide, teach and show
You need to provide the right environment for your people to flourish. Teach 100% of what you know so you can learn another 100%. Show people how it’s done. Do what they do and show them the right way. This builds respect and trust. Don’t do it to show them up. Do it to get buy-in and then take them with you.
5. Be visible
Be everywhere. Move around and hot desk in your business. Observe and engage with your managers and their team on an informal basis. Speak with your people. Be open and transparent. Tell them what’s going on. Ask for their help in overcoming challenges. You are all in the same boat and your people will often surprise you.
6. Lead the charge
When sales are down, sell. When collections are low, collect. If everyone is busy, fetch the coffee. Do you think a general in the front line waited for someone to bring him his ammunition when he had run out?
7. Be authentic
People want to be led by real people. It’s okay to drop some balls. It’s good to have a sense of humour. Put it out there and your people will take to it. It has to be authentic though. Your people will see through you if it’s not.
It’s time to re-look our leadership models and frameworks and start focusing on what’s important: Your people, and trading like there’s no tomorrow!