It’s exciting to start and grow a successful business. Alongside your company’s growth comes new responsibilities and challenges. If you’re scaling it means that you’ve also added staff. It’s an exciting time.
But along with that growth comes something new – leadership. You may have had a few college courses in leadership, but it is now upon you to put theory into practice. If you want to cultivate a great company culture with satisfied, productive employees, then sound leadership is a must.
You can avoid some of the pitfalls of being a new leader with these nine warnings.
1. Don’t resist delegating
This is probably the most difficult challenge you will face. When it was just you, every decision was yours to make, every task was yours to complete, and you had your procedures well mapped out.
Now that you are faced with letting go, you may find yourself micro-managing everything and everybody. This does not make for a good culture, and if you have good hires you won’t keep them for long. Learning to delegate comes gradually, but you can do it. Start with tasks that you feel comfortable giving up, and keep moving down the list. Your comfort level will increase along the way.
2. Don’t undervalue communication
A big complaint of employees is that their bosses don’t communicate often and well enough. It’s easy when things get crazy to forget that everyone needs to be included in the conversation.
When you make a decision, others need to know what, why and when. Your team members cannot own their responsibilities and have an emotional stake in the company’s success unless they are informed.
3. Don’t hoard decision making and problem solving tasks
As a team of one, we get in the habit of making quick decisions when necessary and solving problems all on our own. And we sometimes make mistakes.
When we have a team, however, there is an opportunity to put a problem out there and see what options and ideas other can contribute. Better decisions and solutions come from more minds.
4. Don’t create a ‘fear of failure’ culture
Nothing is worse than an environment in which employees are afraid to make mistakes. It happens, and your response will determine how they will respond too. If they are afraid, they will cover up those mistakes or leave. Keeping an open and supportive climate and helping staff members learn from mistakes and rectify them makes you a mentor – all good leaders are mentors.
5. Don’t resist change
When people begin a business on their own, it can be difficult to adapt to changes that come with scaling a company, sometimes more rapidly than they want to grow. Adding staff is a huge change, and it will be a change in style of operating a business. This means developing a style of leadership. The biggest change will be within you.
6. Don’t forget to set new goals
With growth and new staff comes new goals. And these goals will no longer be set only by you. You have a team now, and if they are to buy into the new goals, they must participate in establishing them. You will be giving up some control, yes, but you will be gaining a collaborative group of people all working for the same thing, and that is truly powerful.
7. Don’t ignore the needs of your team
Often, busy entrepreneurs forget that their team must be mentored, nurtured, supported, and consulted. Leadership involves interpersonal relationships, and this is a critical piece of effective leadership.
When a team member is in need of advice or support, whether that is professional or personal, it is your job to be there. This is definitely a new role, and it may be uncomfortable at first. Make the time and give your team your full attention.
8. Don’t overlook the importance of a fun workplace
There is a great book, titled Fish, and every new leader should read it. It tells the story of a woman who took a position as a manager of the worst department in a company. She had been thrust into a leadership role with a team she did not select and that had been negative and unproductive for years.
The story of how she turned the situation around is a great one, but one important thing she did was find occasions for fun in the workplace. There is a part of leadership theory that says people who play together tend to get along and are more cooperative in the workplace. They bond through non-work events and this carries over. If you want a team that works well together, they must play too.
9. Don’t forget to share praise and rewards
Entrepreneurs who have been on their own tend to be able to pat themselves on the back and enjoy the fruits of their labor. They sometimes forget that not everyone does this, especially when they work for someone else.
Failing to provide praise and reward when it is due can lower morale and job satisfaction. Lack of job satisfaction can reduce loyalty, something you do not want.
Above all, be kind to yourself. You are new at this leadership business, and it will take time. You’ll make mistakes, and you will face new challenges. But over time, if you really want to be a good leader, and you are willing to commit to continued learning, you’ll be great.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Rick Riddle is a successful blogger whose articles aim to help readers with self-development, personal finance and content management. Learn why discipline is important and how self-sufficiency can help you in reaching your goals. Connect with @rickrddl on Twitter .
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