You started your business because you’re passionate about your industry and helping your customers solve their problems. But along the way, you expanded your team and became a boss.
You know a lot about what you do, but you might not know as much about how to lead. If you want to become a better business leader, here are a few tips to get you headed in the right direction.
1. Set Clear Expectations
When you run a business, you set the tone. You know what you want your business to look like, how you want to grow, and what you expect from your team. Don’t keep that information to yourself!
To create a healthy, happy work environment, it’s critical that you set clear expectations and communicate them to everyone. But this isn’t just about telling your employees what you expect them to do for you; it’s also about sharing your expectations for the business and for yourself.
Start by creating a clear business plan with long-term strategic goals. When you share this with your employees, you generate buy-in on your big dreams. They’re going to be so much more engaged and excited to do their daily tasks, knowing that all their hard work is part of a bigger picture.
You also want to create a clear review and promotion process for your employees. One of the quickest ways to build resentment within your team is to offer no feedback and no opportunity for growth. Most employees would rather hear constructive criticism about their work than nothing at all.
Finally, be transparent about your expectations for yourself. You want to create an environment where your employees feel comfortable speaking to you if they feel like you’re not holding up your end of the bargain.
2. Encourage Self-Expression
Your employees are more than just people who sit behind desks in your office. They have full lives with families, loved ones, hobbies, and interests outside of work. The best way to keep your team engaged and excited about coming to work each day is to allow them to embrace who they are outside of work.
Got some comic book fans in the office? Have a “dress up like your favorite superhero” day. Are there some aspiring musicians in the mix? Set up a Battle of the Bands in the conference room one Friday afternoon.
Encouraging that kind of self-expression makes your team feel safe and comfortable at work. And that matters: A 2014 study conducted by Google found that psychological safety (developing a space where people feel safe to take risks and make suggestions, free from judgment) was the most important factor in creating a high-performing team.
3. Open Up the Conversation
When making big business decisions, the temptation can be to consult those in the boardroom. But the success of your company rests on your entire team.
If you’re thinking about making a major shift in your shipping processes, don’t just ask your business partner to weigh in. Chat with the people who are actually interacting with your customers and keeping your business running every day. Getting a diverse set of thoughts and opinions can open your eyes to possibilities you wouldn’t have found if you just asked the same old people in formal leadership positions.
Thinking about leadership can feel intimidating. Don’t forget, though, that a key component of leadership is about being a good communicator and a fair person. Be open to others’ thoughts and opinions, create a safe and encouraging environment, and set goals that inspire you and your team to do your best work.