In the lead up to a presentation that I’m preparing to deliver, I have been reflecting more on leadership, including my leadership style as well as how men and women lead differently.
Lead by example
My style initially, and in some ways still is, a lead by example style. I don’t expect people to do what I am not happy to do myself, or that I can’t do myself. I know every aspect of my business. And I am the one who is happy to clean the bathrooms and the toilets, or assemble office furniture, and to be working the longest hours.
I demonstrate quality control. I am thorough. I am patient and generous with my time, with clients and with colleagues. I go to networking events, I share my learning from conferences, I share books that I’m reading with my mentees, and I create video and audio content. I am also respectful and tolerant, and consciously controlled in my response to triggers.
I expect my staff to emulate me.
But when they don’t, or they can’t understand that my demeanour is consciously cultivated and not meekness, it can do wrong. They may not respect how I behaviour, and therefore won’t emulate me.
I had this problem a couple of years ago, and it really scarred me, because I had high hopes for both these mentees, and they both let me down significantly.
Hence, I started exploring how to lead differently. Starting with some self-reflection.
I had let these women down in many ways. I’m not taking full responsibility, but I could certainly have handled things differently.
Self leadership for me has involved being even more conscious about the culture I am creating. There has been a lot of work poured into my values, and the values I bring to me business. About the customer experience in my business, and also about the kinds of people that I want in my team.
I have learnt that I should hire for personality first, and train later. I’ve also learnt that that doesn’t always work either, when competence is just not there …
Self leadership has also involved a lot of looking inward at my own self-worth, and what I deserve in my life, and what I will tolerate. I have had to change my own self talk, and it has made me more aware of what my younger staff might be saying to themselves in their heads.
I have had to think about what I actually want, and not just going after the next thing because that’s what I ‘should’ do.
It’s also about self-care. That doesn’t mean massages and facials. It means some spirituality, and meditation. It means journalling. It means exercising. Exercising has been so important to me in the past, but I almost completely let it go while I was building my business.
Morning pages. Guided meditations. Self-reflection. All essential for me.
And coaching and finding mentors for myself. I have been very independent, and I haven’t had many women in similar position to myself to emulate. I have taken pieces from those around me. But I have had to actively seek this out for the first time in my life.
Know and share
Then, how has my personal development related back to my leadership with my team?
well, I realised that I had to do more than just lead by example. I had to actually convey without just lecturing.
So I introduced weekly staff meeting, for all staff, so everyone has buy in. We talk through our policies and why they are important. We talking marketing and strategy, so they understand the importance of that and their involvement, we talk about any risks or challenges someone has faced during the week and solve it together, we talk about our customer’s experience, and we also talk about legal papers that have come out.
This is one strategy I’ve developed to grow buy-in for the business, to develop staff more broadly, to get them to remember the bigger picture at least once every week, and for their personal development.
I’ve got to share my plans, so they can be excited. I’ve got to share how I’m solving problems and help them develop their problem solving skills. I’ve got to ask about my own frustrations, so they understand that there’s more going on than just their little world.
We also all did some personality tests, and when new team members join, they also do theirs. So we share those strengths with each other, and we revisit them regularly. We all communicate and are motivated by different things. It has also helped them to understand me more.
It’s also important to talk about ‘why’ we do what we do. When we’re resolving problems, it’s good to bring the solutions back to our business values and the customer experience. It’s important that they understand why we sponsor certain community groups, and why I want them to do Relay for Life. It’s important that they know why them developing their own personal brand is also important, and why I care.