Five Powerful Leadership Lessons I Learned Growing My Business

A team is a highly complicated machine with many moving parts. To get everything working smoothly, it takes finesse, hard work, and a whole lot of trial and error. What works for one team might not work for another because each team is made up of individuals. That being said, there are many techniques and strategies that are effective in helping motivate, manage, and lead a team.

Having been a part of a franchise myself for many years, I know firsthand just how difficult it is to succeed in building and growing a business. I’ve also been involved in a few partnerships. Each had its own unique challenges, but team building ran into the same issues regardless of what type of business it was. Being a student, I went in search of answers, and here are the five I found to be extremely helpful in growing my businesses.

1. Be Friendly, Not Friends

It’s ok to be friendly with your team; in fact, most executives I talk to encourage it. Having a good relationship with your colleagues can only strengthen the team as it pulls down the walls that people have around them. They will reveal things that will show you to how to put them to better use within the organization as well as how to relate to them better. People are often afraid to let their guard down for fear of reprisal or petty jealousy. What can be problematic is if you get too close. That could come back to haunt you later on in the case of having to let them go or reprimand them.

2. Effective Time Management

Ken Blanchard, in his best-selling book, “The One-Minute Manager,” talks about the importance of taking different approaches with employees because each member on the team is at a different stage in their own growth. Those who are competent and experienced need very little assistance; all they need are clear instructions and then you can leave them to it. These are your best performers, and they usually account for about 20%. On the other end of the spectrum are those who need help, a lot of it. They are still learning, so that’s where you need to take a more hands-on approach. What I learned later on in life is that these people can monopolize your time. That’s where I learned to apply Jim Rohn’s advice of spending “individual time with the 20% and group time with the 80%.” Still not convinced? Even CEOs need better time management. According to a 12-year study done by Michael E. Porter and Nitin Nohria, even CEOs need to get a better handle on their time.

3. Training is Powerful

I’m amazed at just how many executives and managers fail to understand one simple concept: training helps make your employees better. Unfortunately, it seems some companies didn’t get the memo, spending thousands, if not millions, on leadership training only to have them fail miserably. Learning the Haka, learning how to sing in harmony, or paintball retreats may sound good on paper, but in reality, they do nothing to improve team effectiveness. Not only do they fail to bolster team spirit and improve collaboration, they actually made things worse by fostering embarrassment and cynicism. Training needs to be precise, teaching a specific topic that can be applicable to the company and/or their personal lives. Personal development and wellness training provides employees with the skills needed to make them more effective both at the office and at home with their family. Companies that invest in their employees’ mental health and future earn major brownie points and greatly reduce attrition.

4. Hire Slow, Fire Fast

There are two things you never want to do in business: be in a rush to hire someone and take too long to fire someone. The wrong person can act like a virus within your organization, and in today’s litigious society might prove costly when trying to remove someone. The hiring process should be done carefully, weeding out the bad seeds. According to ex-Apple executive and best-selling author Guy Kawasaki, in today’s high-speed world, “many companies adopt the attitude of ‘hire any intelligent body, or we’ll lose business – we’ll sort everything out later.’” He calls this “bozo explosion.”

5. Dale Carnegie Secret to Criticism

There’s a reason that Dale Carnegie’s book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” is still a best-seller after all these years. The ideas contained within that book are evergreen. They worked in 1937, and they still work today. It’s helped save many businesses as well as some marriages. Even if you’re not a reader, a short summary will suffice as the author himself does at the end of each chapter. One of the best pieces of advice in the book is his take on how to dish out criticism. Carnegie says three parts praise for every one part criticism. Good advice, indeed, and it’s helped me out a lot over the years.

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