Thursday, 22 May 2014

Leadership tips you cant learn on the MBA

Plenty to learn and plenty to do, just comes down to where you get it from and when you take the q's.

It is important to start leadership development early. You must realize that you are not always going to be in the office at the back working on your pitch and putting out fires. At some point, your organization will look to you for guidance. This moment may happen sooner than you think.

Tip No.1: The Secret to Becoming a Better Manager

When we first got started management and leadership were not part of the process, it was about getting the product out and as easily as possible. But when the business gets growing the thought needs to become process. We needed to be more active about conveying our mission and how each person’s role fits with the rest of the team.

Misunderstandings can quickly snowball and hurt morale. You need to think about how not to be just players but coaches and then team managers.

Keep asking for help. For venture-backed companies, this is less of a concern: When you have investors, you have a board. You already have people who help you hire, identify the greatest challenges and give personal advice. For a bootstrapped company like ours, no one was going to give advice unless we asked for it.

It is important to be proactive. Get out of the building, start looking for an advisory board and ask as many people as possible about the challenges of scaling your business.

How to do that? For me I found that networking and developing growth through understanding was very important. Next was cold calling was difficult at first but the people I had learnt from helped me to develop that success rate into a greater conversion. Through a wider network and notoriety the success rate increased.

Tip No. 2: Richard Branson on Why Leading Means Listening

Dont be afraid to let go a little.  Sure control has its benefits but there has to be a point where you give yourself a change to rest. To grow your business, you need to build in time to grow yourself. So the best investment you can make is to hire people you can trust to take things off your plate.

Find people who can lend a hand in making decisions. If you don’t delegate responsibility for making some decisions, you will become the bottleneck in scaling your operations.

Learn to ask questions. When working with direct reports, the most difficult thing to learn is to not tell them what to do but to help them see the light on their own. The key is to try as much as possible to speak in questions, not in statements. And that question shouldn’t be “why,” as in why don’t you do this or why didn’t you do that?

Instead, questions should be more along the lines of: What was your thought process? What was your goal? How did you come up with this list? What are the pros and cons of this?

Learn to end the question at the question mark. Leave it open ended, and don’t add, extrapolate or explain.

This is not intuitive -- your gut will want to just tell your employees what to do. If you do that, you’ll replace a lengthening to-do list with a lengthening line out your door of employees looking not to be told what to do.

Related: The Problem With Your Business Is You: Making the Shift From Founder to CEO

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