It may be hard to believe at times but your team wants to trust you. It is up to you to you as a leader,not simply as a business owner, to act in a way that commands respect and allows them to follow your lead. By demonstrating the right actions at the right time, you can get your team to put their faith in you.
Your team already knows you’re in charge, so you don’t have to enforce your authority. The secret here is to understand how people work. It all starts with giving them the same kind of respect you would expect in return.
Show up in the trenches
Nothing creates more resentment than a boss who hides in the office the whole day. If you want your team to respect you as a leader, you’ll have to go beyond your job description. You must prove to your team that you are worth following. Otherwise, you’ll struggle to be the person who is meant to be in charge, or in control. People may listen to you, but they won’t put in their best efforts. Worse still, they may place the actions or instructions from other team members ahead of yours.
Sometimes, you may not be sure of what the best course of action is. Feel free to ask for your employees’ recommendations. You will still have to consider all the options on your own. But, your team will have your back if you include them in important decisions.
Be honest in your communication
Flattery kills co-operation. Your team does not need you to be ‘nice’ – they want for more than that – including your honestly. If something goes wrong, you must be able to ‘look them in the eye’ and tell them that there are issues that need to be addressed. This includes both matters that affect their jobs as well as how well they perform their task.
Advocate for your team
Even though your business may be small, your staff expect you to represent them. They want to know you will fight for them. For example, do your best to secure better salaries or bonuses during yearly reviews. Show your staff that you are willing to dedicate yourself to their wellbeing. This strong sign of leadership tends to always bring the best out of people.
Recognise and give credit where it’s due
Not only do some staff want recognition for their work, many demand it. This often simple, easy and quick show of appreciation can do more for the team than just paying more money. Your team wants to know that you see their efforts and that it means something.
Here is something only a true leader can do. When things go wrong, you need to, or should, take as much responsibility as you can – after all, the ‘buck stops with you’. But, when your team achieves and does well, be liberal with giving them the credit. This feels counter-intuitive but over time you will cement your leadership.
Own your mistakes
In a similar vein, sometimes you won’t get things right. As hard as it may seem, the best thing you can do is to accept that you made a mistake. Own it. Show and lead this trait by example.
The pointers above do not come naturally to all, or most leaders, and that’s OK. They require some skill, empathy and emotional resilience. But, they are learnable skills and in the long run, by understanding and practising them, you will earn your team’s respect and have a connection you could never have imagined.
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