Whenever we pose the question to children what they want to be when they grow up we expect the average answer – firefighters, nurses, police officers; all good things. Sometimes we even hear a child responding they want to be an inventor – okay it is indirect mainly due to some kid’s fantasy of owning their own empire of a hybrid Willy Wonka meets Disney World. For all that I’ve been around children (and there have been a lot of sticky, stinky children, yet lovable every one of them; almost) I have never heard a child say, “When I grow up I want to be an entrepreneur.”
The things they do express, nevertheless, illustrate that they want to change the world, and that is a good place to start. The only thing is that the games we grow up playing are misleading. (Yes, another business-oriented blog focused around a game. Why? Because our roots and dreams begin at childhood, and if we can learn from our roots, our fruits will be that much more bountiful.)
To which games do I refer? How about Simon Says and Follow the Leader.
Simon Says implies that we as world-changers, entrepreneurs and leaders can tell our employees when, how, where, why and what to do – no questions asked. Monkey face? Sure, no problem. Jumping up and down too? My pleasure? Oh, I did not follow the exact rules and now I am disqualified? Okay. My pleasure, as well.
Follow The Leader is a game that has given us a misconception of what a leader is. Yes, we follow them, but that does not mean they are always physically in front us. It does not mean that a leader gets to order us like a drill sergeant, and we must mimic their every move.
So if you thought owning your own business meant that life would be a glorified version of these games; sorry, game over. If you thought you would be in charge of people and it was a means to bossing them around…Well, it means you are responsible for their wellbeing. Are they achieving their personal and work goals? How do you ensure this is happening?
• Do Not Be The Employee’s Pet
No one likes the teacher’s pet. Also, no one likes the employee’s pet. Singling out an employee beyond the employee of the month is more detrimental than it sounds. You cannot win everyone, and while you win more flies with sugar than with vinegar, you also create a sticky situation if your words are too sugary sweet. False reinforcement is similar if not the same as negative feedback.
Here is how the scenario ends: you have an employee that has false illusions as to what they can and cannot do. Animosity grows within your corporation and lessens the impact your company has internally and externally.
Honest and helpful guidance in a constructive manner tailored to all employees – as best as possible towards their personalities, at least within their divisions – is the best way to create a more united and established front. Take the time to understand them and help them understand one another.
• Do Not Micromanage
Trust your employees. You gave them guidance. You gave the tools and resources. If you’ve done your part in training them, then you should be able to manage them and allow them to make their own mistakes. That is the only way they can learn. There are two types of typos. One of which is inherit – the one we as responsible adults and employers and employees try to avoid and fix as soon as we recognize in our work. While it should not be a common occurrence or an acceptable common occurrence, it happens.
The other is the kind when we are typing a proposal up, and our manager is leaning over our shoulder for the entire process, and every other letter becomes a stuttering process; a typo. Both wastes valuable time and will devalue the time and talent of the employee/employer relationship and roles.
• Do Not Be The Water Cooler Topic
Do not complain, do not show up late, do not take sick, personal and vacation days just because you can. Do not attend the Christmas Party already drunk. You undermine your authority and lose your respect and become a boss, not a leader.
We all need someone to follow, not someone to boss us around. We can find individuals like those around everywhere. Just take a peek around the corner, in our own homes, I can even flip on a Fitness Channel and have a health guru yell at me, bossing me into a fit body.
However, we need leaders. We need people that encourage us to change the world. So we can stop playing Simon Says and begin living Simon Inspires.
So what should you do, then, to be a better leader? Do return next week to find out; that is step one.
-The Green Couch