Welcome to May! With spring in bloom and vaccination distribution well underway, we are beginning to see glimpses of normalcy. I hope you are noticing the tide changing, as well.
This month, we are talking about leadership – as a quality, a skillset and a frame of mind that is more important than ever. As business owners, it’s our job to lead, ever mindful of how we lead, how we can improve, how we teach team members to be leaders no matter their role.
My primary tenets of leadership have always been flexibility, efficiency, listening and fun. While it may not seem intuitive for efficiency to be an area of focus during this time when businesses and colleagues are struggling most, efficiencies enable you to pivot and work around the needs of your employees.
In order to be effective, it is essential to delegate and to have team members trained on tasks across your business. If you lead a lean team, you can still ensure that processes and project status are accessible across your organization; institutional knowledge should not reside with one individual. While this can feel like a cumbersome process to start, it streamlines your operations in the long run. [As an example, I am preparing to onboard a new employee, which looks different than usual due to working remotely. This has turned into an opportunity to streamline staff training into something that is consistent and easy to replicate: Instead of holding a series of meetings each time we hire, I’ve created video training sessions for candidates to view and then schedule calls to walk through the material and answer questions.]
Active listening is also important. If an employee lapses, pay attention to what is going on, and cultivate an environment where team members feel comfortable acknowledging when they need support. This starts at the top. I, too, have had to embrace being more vulnerable this year when it felt like I had to constantly exude positivity and energy, while inside I was worried that everything was going to disappear. Holding onto that fear and grief wasn’t serving me, and ultimately, by being more open, my team was better able to communicate their own needs.
I once had a manager who let me bring a playpen to the office and I have never forgotten that flexibility or her willingness to provide what I needed to do my best work. By creating open dialogue and understanding your team, you can assist and accommodate their needs. This might include flex time, additional time off or simply understanding when someone needs to step away periodically to manage things at home. Just as I was motivated to work harder for the manager who understood my needs, when you extend trust to your team, it will show in the work they do.
Lastly, don’t forget the fun. With so many working remotely or juggling more at work and home, taking time to connect as a team and remember that you enjoy each other is so important. Whether hosting a virtual happy hour or just taking a few minutes at the start of a meeting to hear about each other’s weekends, don’t forget about the people behind the keyboards.
More than anything, give grace in the month ahead – to your team and to yourself. As women, we are accustomed to doing everything, but we thrive when we are able to support each other.