Manoeuvring the difference between a boss and a leader when you are in a small team can be challenging. You still want to be friendly with them but still need them to be protective and respect you as their ‘boss’.
Many ineffective bosses are one step away from being a bully. Often they are completely unaware of how their actions and words affect those around them, including staff and clients. They refuse to accept responsibility and instead blame others for messy situations.
Leaders, on the other hand, have buckets full of empathy and self-awareness. They own their part in the process of making things change. Leaders can be tough and driven but they know it takes a ‘village’ to make change. Being a leader is much more enjoyable and profitable.
Great leaders engage with staff in a very different way. It starts with employing key people, with the right skill set required for the task. This is usually very different to their own skill set. Leaders know where they are going, but they allow a general structured direction to move forward. They understand that business evolves so fast that they must be adaptable and client-centric. Again, it’s not an ‘us and them’ attitude that will motivate your staff to be productive.
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How do leaders effectively manage small or growing teams? They learn to understand that teams can become very close, too close sometimes. Old style bosses come to rely on their advice too much and take action around this. It’s not generally the smartest thing to do when situations are not working. For leaders, it’s a balance. Great staff often just want to be staff; they don’t want to lead. Great leaders find an easy balance between directing and supporting staff. They are real listeners.
One successful way to do this is to have semi-regular ‘non’ work gatherings. Simple situations which support team work allow for a deeper understanding of team members’ ‘likeness’ or common ground. Try every second month to have a Friday 2-hour early knock off BBQ or drinks and snacks. Rotate some gathering with staff only and other times including families. Make this relaxed, have a start and finish time and make sure you stick to it.
Another way is to have regular twice weekly work in progress (WIP) sessions. Keep them short, less than 30 minutes is best. This can create supportive environment and allows for accountability or challenges to be uncovered, where issues can be resolved through idea sharing. The real key is a tight agenda & the meeting chaired by either a manager or the owner. Active listening and respect is the key to good outcomes.
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