Many of you, business leaders I work with and entrepreneurs I advise, have a great strategy and an innovative solution, but struggle to build and motivate the team needed to run your business.
You assume everyone has your passion and just needs your command and control to make it work. In my experience, what a team needs most is your connection and inspiration.
Becoming a fully connected business leader is a very different challenge from creating a product or defining a good strategy. Yet I am convinced that connected leadership can be learned proactively, instead of waiting for painful negative experiences.
Here are my suggestions for focus and actions that will develop and keep your leadership connected with any team:
1. Listen and treat each team member as a person.
As a good solution developer, it’s easy for you to see team members only as components of your business solution. Your impact and leadership on people requires trust, and trust requires both of you to find common ground and empathy in the human realm of goals, interests, and drivers.
Of course, listening alone is not enough. To be a connected leader, you must demonstrate not only that you hear them, but that you understand their needs and their perspective. Although it sometimes takes patience, over time you’ll find it’s the best way to really learn.
2. Convince members that you are still part of their team.
If they never see you, hide in your office, or work totally different hours, the connection will never happen. Even in today’s remote environments, you can use video sessions, social media, and email to informally track team efforts and share updates, positive and negative.
One of today’s great entrepreneurs, Richard Branson, who now manages more than 400 businesses within the Virgin Group, says he always puts team members first and always finds the time to meet and connect, considering it one of his most enjoyable and productive roles.
3. Create a common community around a higher purpose.
Team members, as well as customers, like to feel connected and inspired by a worthwhile non-commercial purpose, like helping the underprivileged, saving the environment, or supporting inclusivity. Iterative, repeatable business processes with only a financial goal promote low engagement.
For example, Yvon Chouinard, when growing Patagonia, recognized a serious interest in helping the environment and took advantage of it by dedicating one percent of his sales to environmental protection. This created a connection with his team and his clients.
4. Always be authentic and never put the team down.
I realize you might want to spare the team your worries about market changes and competitors, but transparency on these matters builds trust and connection, and improves their focus on agility and inspires teamwork. ‘innovation. You really need their insights and feedback on customer interactions.
5. Spend time coaching and mentoring team members.
Remember that employees’ future careers are as important to them as future business opportunities are to you. Highlight win-win scenarios that lead to better connections, more engagement, and sustainable business growth. Help them learn more about your vision and future market goals.
6. Reward learning and risk taking, success or failure.
A common fear I find in teams that gets in the way of connection is the fear of failure. You need to emphasize that risk taking is good, if not done recklessly, and celebrate learning from each project for all. It provides the inspiration we all need, as well as the agility in the face of change.
7. Facilitate inter-team and outward connections.
When you connect a team member to an outside contact, it strengthens your own connection both ways. So, new relationships with industry influencers and peers are part of building connections with your own team. Connected leaders are known to share their contacts as well as their ideas.
When I talk to early commercial investors, I find that they value the team leadership connection more than the initial solution market. This is why professional investors will tell you that they invest in people, more than in innovative solutions.
Thus, you should not hesitate to invest time and effort in the initiatives suggested here. The potential for you and for the company is huge.