I’ve failed a LOT in business. To get where I am now, selling over 400 homes, almost 4,000 families served in 12 years, working one day a week - the thing that stands out in all of that relates to my ability to lead and manage members. Nobody ever really taught me how to lead and manage - I just did my best, a real trial by fire.
I was raised in a tough situation, and for those of us who have experienced circumstances like that, I’ve heard it said that our business is where that all gets to come out. Our insecurities, deficiencies, dysfunctions - it all comes into our business to rear its ugly head.
Nobody tells you how to deal with it, or to not bring that into your work life. For me, it was a control issue. I tended to want to control what was in front of me, and achievement ended up being the route I took to deal with it all.
In business, when you have that control mentality, you tend to alienate those around you. Sometimes, you’ll end up micromanaging to the point where you undermine your team’s ability to step up and show you they’re capable of taking over parts of the business. It’s a slippery slope that leads to your team not being confident in their abilities, and never being able to do enough to satisfy you.
I’ve done all kinds of therapy to try to shed some of the baggage I brought into my business. I tend to just charge - and not really consider those around me. In a lot of ways, it’s not intentional and I don’t feel like I’m a bad person. In business, I am so focused on growth that it’s hard to remember that the team is just trying to hold on.
Years ago, an independent company came in and interviewed my employees to see what they had to say about me as a leader, and I wasn’t prepared for what they had to say. One thing that an interviewer told me was that my business wasn’t broken, but it was really bent.
As owners, we can deceive ourselves into thinking we have it worse than anybody. It’s humbling to remember that our employees (and clients, for that matter) are also human and can have their own issues.
Unless you’re willing to open yourself and make yourself vulnerable, it’s going to be a tough road for you on your journey to becoming a team leader. Making the switch and making the right decisions for your business is tough, but with the right attitude and the right leverage, it’s possible.