All business owners must assume the responsibility for being the leader of their team. New leadership creates many challenges but perhaps the most significant is to build a sense of credibility among employees.
A leader’s early decisions and actions will be the most carefully scrutinized and make a lasting impression on team members throughout your tenure.
Arising from this, you need to develop a strategy for assuming the leadership role. While there is not a magic formal, a few key characteristics will serve to build credibility during the early days.
- Inspire the team. Leaders must develop a vision of performance and inspire their team to reach the goals set. The most effective leaders are able to communicate their vision clearly so that it provides a blueprint for action and inspires the team to achieve maximum results.
- Set the bar for performance high. New leaders need to convey their authority early by setting achievable goals for each individual and the team as a whole. Those leaders that demand much for their team and hold them accountable for performance goals, will be respected by all employees.
- Assume measured risk. All new leadership roles involve a certain measure of risk. Risk averse leaders will not be able to take the necessary steps to achieve success, while those leaders who are able to assume calculated risk are more likely to be perceived by employees as strong decision makers. Effective leaders assess the risk inherent in all decisions along with potential reward and take appropriate action. This is the same principle as when you may have completed a business loan application or credit card application for early funding of your business. You had to decide on how much financial risk you were willing to assume based on projected earnings. In the same way, you should assume only that risk with regard to goal attainment that you are comfortable you can meet with the talent resources available.
- Keep an open-door policy. It is expected that most employees will have some trepidation with regard to your leadership style and expectations. To foster a sense of familiarity and comfort, new leaders should be approachable and communicate their values, ideas, and goals. It is important to meet with the team as a whole and each member individually to gain a sense of each person’s unique value to the team. While being approachable is important in establishing comfortable rapport, it is also important to maintain careful boundaries and not become overly familiar with those you will supervise as that can compromise your authority.
- Able to make difficult decisions. Leadership involves making difficult decisions. Results of team performance always rest with the manager. As such, new leaders must make their team members accountable for achieving goals. To earn the respect and commitment of employees, new leaders must be consistent with their decision-making and not play favorites.
- Score early wins for the team. New leaders must establish their competence early on. It is highly unlikely that new leaders will make significant inroads during the first few days or weeks in the leadership role, it is still necessary to seek opportunities for the team to experience wins as will boost your credibility early on. In many cases, these early positive outcomes may involve improving behavioral issues or focusing on streamlining certain processes. Try to identify three “easy fixes” that the team can all take part in. These early wins will help you earn credibility to then supervise more substantive improvements.
Daniela Baker is a small business blogger at CreditDonkey. Her team helps entrepreneurs compare business credit card offers and deals. For more information, please visit http://www.creditdonkey.com/