Employees Need a Leader, Not a Friend

Employees Need a Leader, Not a Friend

Leadership is one of the most challenging, fulfilling and exciting roles a business owner faces. Leading your team in a fun, supportive, yet assertive way is key to your business thriving and your team wanting to grow with you.

While it’s essential to cultivate positive relationships with your employees, it’s equally important to balance structure, clear communication, empowerment and direction, while ensuring you are not just ‘too friendly’.

So here are some ways to lead your team so it works for you, your employees, and your business.

Clear Boundaries
Boundaries are the lines that we draw to define what is and is not acceptable. If a leader tries to be too friendly, it can lead to confusion about the employee’s role, responsibilities and what’s expected. So have a clearly defined agreement with responsibilities and expected tasks.

Also go through some other obvious boundaries so they are aware of what is acceptable. For example: the intellectual property of a job (the design, quote etc.) is the intellectual property of your company and that should be upheld and not shared around with others. So be clear about any areas that need to be discussed and clarified.

Don’t avoid approaching management issues (even if they are uncomfortable)
When behaviours or performance disappoints, it can often be due to differences in understanding or perception. Conflict avoidance will only make a situation worse.

For example, if a Team Leader has repeatedly failed to deliver an expected weekly progress report, don’t let it go (otherwise he will know that he can repeatedly do so without repercussion). Instead, immediately address this issue and explain why this weekly report and meeting is important, regardless of what is happening on site. Lock in a weekly time and ensure you both stick to it.

What do you do when you don’t feel comfortable approaching an issue?
Realise this will be just a discussion. Give yourself some time to calm down, then think about the issue and plan what you will say. Don’t attack the manager or employee; instead tell them what the issue is and how you feel. Ask them for their explanation and then agree on what needs to happen going forward.

Leaders have a responsibility to set tasks and goals with managers or employees and follow through on a regular basis to ensure that what was agreed is happening. Meet with managers or employees regularly, follow a meeting plan so they know what they were expected to prepare for the meeting. Such meetings allow your role and the manager’s role to be respected and fulfilled.

If a leader is too friendly, managers or employees will easily forget to follow through or if they do, the meetings can have a loose structure with no one accountable. No one benefits and the business suffers.

Empower and respect
It’s important to give your key managers the authority and flexibility to make decisions and solve problems, without micromanaging or interfering. You encourage them to take initiative and learn from their mistakes and support them when things don’t go so well.

Leadership means putting your team, your clients, and the business ahead of yourself. Being an effective leader requires you to set boundaries, expectations and responsibilities, while making managers and employees accountable. You help empower them, so they grow personally and professionally while being positive, engaging and supportive. Being everyone’s friend without structure and accountability will do each team member, the team, and your business a disservice.



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