When you were a kid, did your parents or teachers ever say, “Do as I say, not as I do”? I know when I heard those words, I would feel furious. However, as an adult in the workforce, actions speak louder than words, and we all know someone that makes demands on their team but never follows the same protocol themselves. A philosophy of “do as I say…” tends to leave the team asking themselves, “if they won’t do it, why should I do it?” and then the team is left feeling hypocrites instead of true leaders leading them. Do you ask your team to do things you aren’t willing to do? Does your team resent you or trust you? Bottom line: Are you leading by example or by hypocrisy?
If you are leading by example, you know that your team looks to you and takes their cues from you. They are likely thinking, “Since they are doing it, I will too!” The best leaders lead with encouragement, carry their weight, and prove that everyone has equal ability and value.
Are you showing the people on your team how they can be even better? Are you encouraging them to push the limits of their ability? What do your words say? What do your actions say? What is the message they hear loud and clear?
As the co-owner of my company with about 20 salespeople, we recently invested close to 6 figures in our team by providing long-term sales training for the entire team. But it didn’t stop with our sales team. My two business partners and I are also participating in the same sales activity AND doing specific training for business owners/team leaders. We will do everything we ask our team to do and more. We will participate, learn, grow, and roleplay alongside our team. TEAM EQUALITY is the secret to a successful company and team culture. NO ONE is above or below. From experienced members to new leaders and vice versa, we all have something to learn. The number one way to be successful is to be willing to do what you ask of your team. Then there are a few other ways to lead well. Here are some tips:
Check Your Finger Nails (Figuratively).
Are you willing to do the dirty work? Some might say it’s cleaning toilets and changing light bulbs, but it can also mean taking customer service calls or meeting with an unhappy customer. Sure, it’s easy to meet with a happy clientele, but that’s not what I’m discussing here. Do you sit back and tell others what to say or do, or do you dive in with them and bear the weight of it all. So, check your fingernails. Have you gotten yourself into the dirty work?
One of my favorite MO’s is the fact that “if we mess up, we fess up, we NEVER cover-up.” Owning up means sometimes taking the blame for the team. It means if the team has failed or messed up, it’s a direct reflection of the leadership, and so take the responsibility, own up and learn from the experience. The team trusts a leader that owns up. When the team can count on you, you and the entire company wins.
You have one mouth and two ears. Use them to the same ratio. Listen to your team. When you do, you will see they are a whole lot more brilliant than you! ASK the questions and listen. Roleplay. Listen. See their frustrations. Learn about what they love. Learn about the moral and culture. Your team will tell you exactly what they need if you listen. Listening to the group is a leader’s secret weapon.
If you’re teaching your team, they aren’t allowed to fail; when they do (which is inevitable), they are most likely going to be scared to fess up, scared to face you, or be fearful of your reaction. Failure is essential for teams, especially when looking to be cutting-edge leaders in the industry, taking risks, and testing the results. Plan, do, review. You can take risks in a controlled setting. Learn from the mistakes/failure and build trust and a culture of go-getters. PS: when YOU as a leader fail, confront your team and take the heat. Let them see you are willing to be in the hot seat too.
Especially on the heels of failure- ask yourself and your team what you all can learn from the experience. Instead of being failure-focused, be open to learning. Find a solution for what went wrong and open it up for the team to learn. Getting stuck or becoming a broken record about the same mistake will only plunge you into the past. Instead, you want to learn and propel forward.
All work and no play make for a sour team. Lead from example. Show the team having a work-life balance is doable. Show the team that finding a hobby or sport is not only okay but highly encouraged. Show them mental AND physical health is a priority. Encourage the team to work out, get fit, eat well, and be balanced. This type of culture will increase the company’s overall morale and success beyond measure.
Communicate With Honesty
Team members want communication, and they want honesty. However, honesty doesn’t always mean only “telling the truth”. It also means sharing information. If you are withholding vital information, the team will grow to disrespect you. As an owner, I can say there’s a time and place to share information. You know what the team needs to know and when. Don’t dangle carrots without sharing info. Don’t make the team beg for more. How are you affecting the team? Take a look at your communication.
Set A Team Standard
Show the team what your standards are for your business and methods of operation. If you want greatness, you must be displaying this yourself! It starts at the top. If you don’t follow your standards, don’t expect the team to do it. When your team’s standards are in place, you will see success… it’s all connected!
See what I mean about it all starting at the top with YOU? What is trickling down? If you don’t like what you’re getting- it’s time to talk to the person in the mirror!
Success is a choice.