I woke up the other morning and found myself still thinking about ideas and opinions that had been flying across the boardroom table the day before. That’s the sign of a great meeting — and a healthy mix of personalities in the leadership team.
It made me think about how business owners can proactively generate these types of conversations on a weekly, if not daily, basis. What is the secret to maintaining a pipeline of fresh thinking?
Changing nature of business leadership
I regularly talk to owners about how they can improve the flow of information and ideas in and out of their management team. And what I have seen, again and again, is that it’s the person at the top who is the blocker – and most of the time, they don’t realise it.
Smaller companies are often founded by individuals with a strong personality and a distinct entrepreneurial spirit, but as the entity evolves, this can become a barrier to its success. Yet as an organisation grows, so does the complexity of its management.
Once a start-up becomes an established SME, one person can no longer make informed decisions across every part of the business or maintain a continuous stream of new ideas to drive innovation and growth long-term.
Surround yourself with good people
The obvious solution is to build a robust leadership team to support you as your business grows. But this is also a risky transitional process that’s easy to get wrong. Here are the four main risks and how to avoid them
- Don’t look for a ‘mini me’: if you hire someone just like you, there can only be two outcomes. They’ll either mirror you or they will clash with you – and neither benefits your business. Seek people who compliment your management style but bring fresh perspective with them. Then give them the freedom to voice their opinions.
- Find someone to lead you: you may be a business leader, but you still need to be challenged, pushed, inspired and guided. Look for someone who can give you the chance to step outside your role as the business owner once in a while and be the mentee.
- Put your business in the frame: you want to set your people free to achieve big things, but you still need to provide a strong framework, so everyone is working to the same objectives. Your business plan is a great place to start, but it’s also important to cascade this message throughout the business – what’s your purpose, where did you come from and where are you heading next? And how can everyone contribute to the future of the business?
- Put blame back in its box: your management style will guide how all your employees conduct themselves at work. So, to promote a culture of openness about ideas and opinions means building trust that everyone is encouraged to share, and to take measured risks within your framework. When things go wrong, learn and move forward in a positive way. Nothing shuts down communication, innovation and investment in the future of your company like a blame culture.
How did you find the right balance of personalities for your leadership team?
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