I’m no Darren Hardy or John Maxwell, but there’s quite a bit of things I’ve learned since becoming an entrepreneur. Quite frankly, as weird as it sounds, it’s more of what not to do than what to do when you’re your own boss. Today, I want to talk about leaders and leadership. I’m in no position to judge or criticize anyone as this is an observation on my part about leadership as a whole. Let me tell you, when you want to be a leader or better yet, desire to grow as an individual, I personally believe being an entrepreneur speeds up your learning curve.
With that said, below are my top ten learning experiences I’ve seen as a follower from leaders (I’ve actually done a few myself) and have learned to make note of what not to do when it comes to sharpening my leadership skills so if you consider yourself a leader, take notes!
In no particular order of importance:
- You’re not cultivating your relationships.
Relationships with people are everything. People know if you care when you stay in touch, send a card, ask how they’re doing, remember a birthday, anniversary, event, etc. You know what people also notice? When you don’t send a birthday text, call just to chat for a few minutes, express condolences when a loved one passes away, etc. because the moment you call someone up or want to meet with him/her, you know what they’ll automatically think? That you’re contacting them for a favor or help. Let’s be real, do you really think that person will want to help you when you haven’t been present in their life? Survey says! Nope. Relationships do matter.
- You’re not being personable.
Personalize, personalize, personalize! Nothing is lamer (is lamer even a word?) when you’re lumped in with everyone else. People want to feel special, so ask yourself, “Am I welcoming that person to the team/organization in a special way?” or “Am I treating them as an individual or just seeing them as another number on the team?” If you treat someone as if they’re a number, don’t be surprised if people in your company or team drop like flies. People have NAMES for a reason. They are human beings and deserve an extra 30 seconds of your time to make them feel special.
- You don’t keep promises (even if they’re small ones).
Keep your promises no matter how busy you are. Trust me when I say it’s best to not promise anything than to promise and not deliver. When promises are made and not kept, trust is broken. Resentment starts to set in and from there builds with each promise you break. When you say, “If you partner with me, I promise not to leave you and be here for you,” you must be there for that person. It’s a commitment. One thing I’ve learned from the corporate world and my 11 years of customer service is, “Under promise and over deliver.” When you do this, you’ll win every time!
- You’re not taking time to recognize others.
Recognition and praise does help. Many people (including myself) say,”Oh, I don’t do it for the praise.” or “I don’t need praise or to be recognized,” but you know what I’ve learned about myself? That I do need someone to tell me what they think. I think we all do. When we are recognized for our efforts, we’re willing to do anything for the person who took the time to notice us. A simple thank you goes a long way. A Facebook or Instagram post acknowledging someone’s accomplishments or a mention on Twitter expressing your appreciation will not go unnoticed. Even better? A text message. Best way? A phone call, even if it’s just a few minutes.
- You see yourself above everyone else.
Attitude is everything, but people respect those who have manners. We all have bad days and have worked hard to get where we’re at, but just because you have a bad day doesn’t mean you can act like a jerk. Leaders, don’t think you’re above everyone else. When you start ordering people around and disrespecting others who are “below” you, you’ll stick out like a bug on someone’s dinner plate. (Yep, you’d be that low of a person.) You can be an awesome leader, make a ton of money and have a strong following. However, if your manners suck, you’d be that person who’s had their cake and had their face smashed in it. The respect you desire and want just won’t happen. I’ve seen people do this in restaurants and it’s disgusting and very unattractive. I’ve always said if you want to find out who someone really is, watch out they treat servers at an event or dinner.
- You’re not listening.
The way your business/team performs depends on one of the greatest human skills ever: listening. If you’re bringing on a new teammate, remember to listen to him/her when you’re asking questions. If that person tells you that they don’t know how to build a business, it’s code for, “I’m scared out of my mind right now, but I’ll sign on to partner with you because I trust you enough to take a risk to take care of me to lead and guide me to success.” Yep. that’s exactly what that means. Don’t leave your teammates out to dry and say, “Here’s your training. You’re on your own. Get back to me when you have questions.” This move can be very disappointing to the person who has invested their time, money and trust in you. Take note of the quote above. Don’t just tell your team what to do. Don’t just show them what to do. Involve everyone in the learning process and watch your team and business explode! Remember, there’s a difference between hearing and listening.
- You don’t know what your team/company’s vision is – the WHY behind what you do.
Don’t just know your vision, know and understand your TEAM’S vision. When bringing someone new into your organization, find out that person’s dreams, goals and vision and write them down. Express your own dreams, goal and vision as well. Also keep both your and your team’s vision at the forefront of your mind as you grow your business. When you help someone towards their vision, they help you towards yours. When they disappear or fall off the horse, you can remind them of their vision. It’s important that you care to remember their vision and remind them of it! As your organization grows, your team vision doesn’t just come to life, but each individual person’s vision comes to life too! When vision comes to life, people work harder and with energy!
- You don’t communicate on a deeper level.
Communicating and EXPLAINING the sense of urgency creates momentum. I heard at an event I attended last year, “Don’t take time to try and make chickens fly. You need to find eagles who are ready to soar!” or something to that effect. As a leader, communicating the sense of urgency is important. Yes, don’t spend all of your time trying to get people to get moving that you forget about yourself and your team. However, don’t just tell your team that it’s important to hustle, explain to them why it’s important to get moving and intertwine the team’s why with each person’s why. A strong teamwork environment is created when you make a why a part of someone else’s why and their why a part of your’s.
- You’re REALLY money-driven.
Leading with money in mind instead of your heart. Man oh man is this a HUGE mistake! When you lead with money in mind, your organization/team will have a tough time growing. Although your intentions may be good, for some individuals, your actions can be seen from 100 miles away as a motive that will benefit you not them. To make sure your message and actions are clear, lead with your heart. People pay those who live and lead with their hearts their money and time (which we all know is more valuable than any dollar amount). Anyone can sense passion easily, but it’s the genuine heart that will win every time.
- You’re not okay with being transparent.
Creating trust with transparency is a big deal. Here it is bluntly: Don’t lie. Don’t lie to your team, your customers, your readers, whoever you’re serving. People like me have much more respect for those who are honest and transparent. Be honest and don’t let your ego get in the way. If someone calls you out, (wo)man up, acknowledge that person’s comments/concerns and admit your mistakes. Most of the time, your head can be buried so deep that you might not see what someone else sees. Be thankful that people love you enough to tell you when they see something wrong. If you have a big head, expect a small bank account.
Treat your team and those who work with you with the utmost respect, no matter their title, experience, age, demographic or background. If you can’t remember the ten leadership lessons above, just remember this: people first, business second.
In some way, we are all followers and leaders. As a follower, what have you learned not to do? Is it in the list above? If you’re a leader, what do you want to improve on? Be transparent and tell me in the comments below! If you have found this article valuable, please do share on your social media channels! I’d appreciate it!
*This is from my personal experience from the last few years of interacting and watching leaders in various industries. To respect everyone’s privacy, I will not name any names of leaders or companies should you ask.