You’re a crazy-driven, spectacularly motivated entrepreneur and you know what it takes to build an empire:
- Guest posts on high traffic websites
- Engaged social media followers
- Valuable, high-integrity offerings that make your clients’ lives easier
And you’re right – you do need those things.
But what if you’re neglecting an aspect of your business that’s the difference between earning five figures and six? Or the difference between 60-hour work weeks and 30?
Nearly every entrepreneur I’ve interviewed (and I’ve interviewed hundreds) has said the same thing:
“I wish I’d learned to lead sooner.”
When we think of “business leaders,” we might imagine millionaire captains of industry, giving TED talks to packed auditoriums. But everyone who works for themselves and uses contractors or even a part-time V.A. is a leader.
When you learn how to hire the right people, you’re a better leader.
When you know how to inspire the people who work for and with you, you’re a better leader.
When you can delegate, outsource, and scale your business, you’re a better leader.
Becoming a great leader is a long journey but every journey starts with a single step, right? With that in mind, here’s a short checklist of skills that will help you become the leader you’re meant to be.
Skill 1: Hiring right
Are you thrilled with the people you work with? Can you hand off projects and know they’ll give you something amazing – on time and on budget? Or do they need lots of handholding and clarification? Do they miss deadlines?
Do this if you need help hiring: Start by asking your friends where they found their team. Reach out to online peers and ask.
Skill 2: Getting feedback
Our team can only be as good as we allow them to be. We can’t expect great things from people if we’re giving them muddled directions or unrealistic timelines. Are you soliciting feedback from your team every three-to-six months? How can you make things easier and smoother?
Do this if you need help getting feedback: Be honest with your team about how their feedback helps you. Ask them specific questions about areas you’d like to improve.
Skill 3: Collaboration
Nobody fantasizes about a full inbox. If you’re not careful, you might create a team that comes to you with every question and problem, making you the hub of a very complicated wheel. In a perfect world, your team interacts with each other (answering each other’s questions), not just driving everything through you.
Do this if you need help with collaboration: When you bring on a new team member, do you introduce them to your other team members? Do you provide guidelines for which tasks they can collaborate on and what they need to run by you? Here’s a new hire checklist for busy entrepreneurs so you can make sure your team is trained right, right from the start.
Skill 4: Vision-sharing
Your team will be more excited, more engaged, and just plain better when they understand your larger goals. When your team understands why you’re writing about that topic and why you’ve launched this product, you’ll have better morale and lower turnover. How do you know when your team is clear on the vision? Ask them what they understand the vision to be and provide clarifying feedback.
Do this if you need help sharing your vision: Share your vision as part of your onboarding process. In addition to giving your new team members duties and passwords, share your professional history and passion. And when big things happen for you and your company as a result of your team’s hard work – tell them about it!
Skill 5: Delegation
Oooof. This skill is simultaneously the hardest and the most important. Most of us are convinced that nobody can do things as well as we can or that it’s “just easier to do it myself.” Yes, you’ll have to train a new team member to take over your tasks, but the payoff will be huge. You’ll have more time and more energy.
Do this if you need help with delegation: First, get over these four delegation-related hang-ups. Next, do the math on how much more money you’d make if you started delegating. Then get yourself a (free!) membership at Trello.com to help you assign tasks and track deadlines without 15-part email threads.
Your action item for this week is to identify which leadership skill listed above you need the most help with, then use the “do this” suggestion for that skill and let us know how it works out for you. Be sure to share your thoughts in a comment below.