Having a great idea, and assembling a team to bring that concept to life is the first step in creating a successful business venture. While finding a new and unique idea is rare enough; the ability to successfully execute this idea is what separates the dreamers from the entrepreneurs. However you see yourself, whatever your age may be, as soon as you make that exciting first hire, you have taken the first steps in becoming a powerful leader. When money is tight, stress levels are high, and the visions of instant success don’t happen like you thought, it’s easy to let those emotions get to you, and thereby your team. Take a breath, calm yourself down, and remind yourself of the leader you are and would like to become. Here are some key qualities that every good leader should possess, and learn to emphasize.
Whatever ethical plane you hold yourself to, when you are responsible
for a team of people, its important to raise the bar even higher. Your
business and its employees are a reflection of yourself, and if you make
honest and ethical behavior a key value, your team will follow suit. Try to make a list of values and core beliefs that both you
and your brand represent, and post this in your office. Promote a
healthy interoffice lifestyle, and encourage your team to live up to
these standards. By emphasizing these standards, and displaying them
yourself, you will hopefully influence the office environment into a
friendly and helpful workspace.
Ability to Delegate
Finessing your brand vision is essential to creating an organized and
efficient business, but if you don’t learn to trust your team with that
vision, you might never progress to the next stage. Its important to
remember that trusting your team with your idea is a sign of strength,
not weakness. Delegating tasks to the appropriate departments is one of
the most important skills you can develop as your business grows. The
emails and tasks will begin to pile up, and the more you stretch
yourself thin, the lower the quality of your work will become, and the
less you will produce.
The key to delegation is identifying the strengths of your team, and
capitalizing on them. Find out what each team member enjoys doing most.
Chances are if they find that task more enjoyable, they will likely put
more thought and effort behind it. This will not only prove to your team
that you trust and believe in them, but will also free up your time to
focus on the higher level tasks, that should not be delegated. It’s a
fine balance, but one that will have a huge impact on the productivity
of your business.
Knowing what you want accomplished may seem clear in your head, but
if you try to explain it to someone else and are met with a blank
expression, you know there is a problem. If this has been your
experience, then you may want to focus on honing your communication
skills. Being able to clearly and succinctly describe what you want done
is extremely important. If you can’t relate your vision to your team,
you won’t all be working towards the same goal.
Training new members and creating a productive work environment all
depend on healthy lines of communication. Whether that stems from an
open door policy to your office, or making it a point to talk to your
staff on a daily basis, making yourself available to discuss interoffice
issues is vital. Your team will learn to trust and depend on you, and
will be less hesitant to work harder.
Sense of Humor
If your website crashes, you lose that major client, or your funding
dries up, guiding your team through the process without panicking is as
challenging as it is important. Morale is linked to productivity, and
it’s your job as the team leader to instill a positive energy. That’s
where your sense of humor will finally pay off. Encourage your team to
laugh at the mistakes instead of crying. If you are constantly learning
to find the humor in the struggles, your work environment will become a
happy and healthy space, where your employees look forward to working
in, rather than dreading it. Make it a point to crack jokes with your
team and encourage personal discussions of weekend plans and trips. It’s
these short breaks from the task at hand that help keep productivity
levels high and morale even higher.
There may be days where the future of your brand is worrisome and
things aren’t going according to plan. This is true with any business,
large or small, and the most important thing is not to panic. Part of
your job as a leader is to put out fires and maintain the team morale.
Keep up your confidence level, and assure everyone that setbacks are
natural and the important thing is to focus on the larger goal. As the
leader, by staying calm and confident, you will help keep the team
feeling the same. Remember, your team will take cues from you, so if you
exude a level of calm damage control, your team will pick up on that
feeling. The key objective is to keep everyone working and moving ahead.
If you expect your team to work hard and produce quality content,
you’re going to need to lead by example. There is no greater motivation
than seeing the boss down in the trenches working alongside everyone
else, showing that hard work is being done on every level. By proving
your commitment to the brand and your role, you will not only earn the
respect of your team, but will also instill that same hardworking energy
among your staff. It’s important to show your commitment not only to
the work at hand, but also to your promises. If you pledged to host a
holiday party, or uphold summer Fridays, keep your word. You want to
create a reputation for not just working hard, but also be known as a
fair leader. Once you have gained the respect of your team, they are
more likely to deliver the peak amount of quality work possible.
You want to keep your team motivated towards the continued success of
the company, and keep the energy levels up. Whether that means
providing snacks, coffee, relationship advice, or even just an
occasional beer in the office, remember that everyone on your team is a
person. Keep the office mood a fine balance between productivity and
If your team is feeling happy and upbeat, chances are they won’t mind
staying that extra hour to finish a report, or devoting their best work
to the brand.
Some decisions will not always be so clear-cut. You may be forced at
times to deviate from your set course and make an on the fly decision.
This is where your creativity will prove to be vital. It is during these
critical situations that your team will look to you for guidance and
you may be forced to make a quick decision. As a leader, its important
to learn to think outside the box and to choose which of two bad choices
is the best option. Don’t immediately choose the first or easiest
possibility; sometimes its best to give these issues some thought, and
even turn to your team for guidance. By utilizing all possible options
before making a rash decision, you can typically reach the end
conclusion you were aiming for.
When leading a team through uncharted waters, there is no roadmap on
what to do. Everything is uncertain, and the higher the risk, the higher
the pressure. That is where your natural intuition has to kick in.
Guiding your team through the process of your day-to-day tasks can be
honed down to a science. But when something unexpected occurs, or you
are thrown into a new scenario, your team will look to you for guidance.
Drawing on past experience is a good reflex, as is reaching out to your
mentors for support. Eventually though, the tough decisions will be up
to you to decide and you will need to depend on your gut instinct for
answers. Learning to trust yourself is as important as your team
learning to trust you.
Ability to Inspire
Creating a business often involves a bit of forecasting. Especially
in the beginning stages of a startup, inspiring your team to see the
vision of the successes to come is vital. Make your team feel invested
in the accomplishments of the company. Whether everyone owns a piece of
equity, or you operate on a bonus system, generating enthusiasm for the
hard work you are all putting in is so important. Being able to inspire
your team is great for focusing on the future goals, but it is also
important for the current issues. When you are all mired deep in work,
morale is low, and energy levels are fading, recognize that everyone
needs a break now and then. Acknowledge the work that everyone has
dedicated and commend the team on each of their efforts. It is your job
to keep spirits up, and that begins with an appreciation for the hard