I talk about sharing “tough love” with your team quite a bit. As you can probably guess from the title, there’s a little tough love coming your way today in the form of 3 things you’re doing wrong as a leader.
I’ve talked about why it’s important to share tough love with your team, I’ve shared my no-fail method for how to do it without it feeling mean, scary or coming off hurtful, and I’ve discussed the benefits of tackling those difficult conversations head on.
So, it only makes sense that I write a post to share a bit of tough love with you. I’d be doing you a major disservice if I didn’t talk about what I see and hear happening in the small business space when it comes to leading teams.
*Caution: This post may cause some readers to become upset. Tough love can be, well, tough to hear sometimes. I’m sharing this insight with you because I see these things happening all the time – and it’s hurting teams. I encourage you to consider what is upsetting you and look for opportunities for personal growth and self development.
We all need tough love
We all need to hear tough love, constructive feedback, and areas where we can improve. It’s necessary to our continued learning and growth in any role we play in life.
Think of it like the dirt that’s needed to grow plants and flowers. Dirt is full of all the important nutrients and support a seedling needs in order to one day bloom into something beautiful, even though it’s not beautiful itself. The same is true of tough love.
As Maureen commented on one of my Instagram posts the other day, “Tough love helps open up the ears! As hard as it is to hear, it is necessary.”
And Brogan added in the same post, “It always amazes me how helpful tough love is – you always hear what you need to + if you’re open to it, it works wonders!”
YES! To all of this.
When the tough love is coming from a place of care, support and encouragement, and the receiver is willing to listen and truly hear the feedback, then it can absolutely be a game changer.
Which is why I want to talk with you today about a few of the things I see happening in the small business world when it comes to leading teams that are not healthy.
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3 Things You’re Doing Wrong as a Leader
1) Blaming your team
I don’t mean that you’re actually going around saying, “It’s all Kayla and Jerrod’s fault!” But in essence, you are blaming them when you say things like:
- “If only I had a team of A Players, I wouldn’t have all these problems.”
- “I talk and talk and talk and my team never listens to me.”
- “If you want something done right, you should just do it yourself.”
Now, you may be sitting there thinking, “I only said that out of frustration!” or maybe you only say these things in private conversations. And that’s valid. I’m not saying there aren’t tough times in your business. The emotional roller coaster of entrepreneurship and being ultimately responsible for everything that happens is real.
Here comes the tough love, so hang on – it doesn’t give you an excuse to blame every problem on your team.
As a matter of fact, because of your position, you have an even greater responsibility to take ownership of the problems you’re facing.
Take Action: Next time, before you immediately jump to blaming someone on your team, take a moment to pause and reflect on what you could have done differently to achieve a different outcome.
2) Expecting employees to be mind readers
The next problem I see with leaders in the small business world is that many expect their employees to be mind readers.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never actually met someone who could legit read minds. I mean like really, truly and fully read and interpret what’s on someone else’s mind.
Employees are not mind readers. They don’t know what you want, how you want it, or when you want it – until you tell them.
To add on to this, you also can’t expect them learn and execute something right overnight that took you years of studying and practice to perfect. It’s going to take some time, repetition, and practice. It’s time to practice patience, my friend.
Take Action: Next time you find yourself wondering, “Why didn’t my team handle this?” Pause and consider this phenomenon: The Curse of Knowledge.
In an article by the Harvard Business Review, it’s explained like this: “The problem is that once we know something…we find it hard to imagine not knowing it. We have difficulty sharing it because we can’t readily recreate their state of mind.”
Are you taking for granted that this is something you know that they may not?
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3) Poor communication skills
I promise you, I will share this quote by George Bernard Shaw about communication until the end of all time:
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
Just because you:
- mention something in passing,
- sent a text to an employee when an idea popped into your head, or
- brainstormed solutions to a problem as a team,
does not mean that you’ve effectively communicated anything to your team – at all.
One of the biggest hurdles I see for small business owners is that they’re constantly moving at warp speed and they don’t slow down to make sure their team members are on board.
When you’re communicating with your team, you have to take the time to thoroughly explain what’s going on. What’s needed from your team? Does each member understand their role?
This is where you get to exercise those important communication skills to help them fully understand what it is you need from them (and when, where, why and how you want it!).
Have you ever heard the Benjamin Franklin saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?”
This remains true for communicating with your team. By taking a few extra minutes up front to make sure everyone is on the same page, you’ll save a whole boatload of headaches later when everything falls apart.
Take Action: The next time you need to give your team member an assignment, make sure to answer the “who, what, when, where, why and how” of the project before presenting it to them. After you give the assignment to your team member, have him/her repeat the instructions back to you that you just gave to make sure you didn’t miss any key elements!
I know this post was a bit rougher than usual. Thanks for hanging in there with me.
But I wanted to talk about these issues with you today, because they’re holding so many small business owners back from having greater success with their teams and in their businesses.
I don’t want the same for you; I want the best for you. And I promise you there’s an easier way than the struggle you’re currently experiencing.
Take a moment to reflect on what actions you’re taking (or not taking) in your business. How are they impacting your relationship with your team? When you reflect on these, you’ll soon be able to clear out the problems more quickly and get back to having fun doing business.
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