How many of you woke up one morning and said “I want to lead a business?” Not many, of you likely. You said, instead, “I want to own a business.”Owning a business has tremendous pressure and responsibility. Because of this, business owners wear many hats. They manage finances, hire new employees, handle legal issues and supervise their team.
But successfully owning a company and making it profitable does not mean you are leading a company. Leadership requires you to have vision. Ownership doesn’t. You can own something and not have a vision for it. Leaders cast a vision, articulate it clearly, and energize their team to make it happen.
Sometimes we think our ownership is our leadership — but it’s not one in the same.
“Ownership” is responsibility for the outcome. “Leadership” is responsibility to get there.
Being an owner vs. a leader bears different fruit.
Owning a company can result in profitability. Many people want to own a company so they can make money, remodel their kitchen and go on an expensive vacation. There’s nothing wrong with that. But if this sounds like you, you need to hire a leader.
Leading a company improves team culture and morale. It motivates people within their role and helps them understand their purpose.
Working for an owner who does not lead can make people feel like a cog in a wheel just trying to log their required eight hours. A leader can make people feel excited about the company’s direction and motivated to help contribute to its bottom line. This is a recipe for a business that scales.
Why is owning your role as “leader” important? Because to build a team you can trust, you must be a leader worth trusting.
A Trusted Leader
Many small business owners lament that they haven’t found the right people for their team. Not knowing how to grow your team can be a symptom of poor leadership — whether you want to admit it or not.
Are you keeping a hand in every pot? Hovering instead of allowing your team to play to their strengths? Holding back instead of digging in and motivating your team to do more than they thought they could do?
Leaders worth trusting are confident.
They respond to crises instead of reacting. They set the tone for the team to follow. Your confidence (or lack thereof) measures the success of your team. If no one has faith in the leader, things can fall apart quickly.
Leaders also lead with integrity.
They admit their mistakes and recover gracefully from bad judgment calls. They are appropriately transparent and show their team what they are fighting for. A trusted leader will never ask their team to do something they wouldn’t be willing to do themselves.
They also know how to protect their team.
As an owner, you will be faced with hard decisions when looking at your bottom line. A leader knows that even in tough times, you still have to show up and give the team a future without instigating fear or anxiety.
What does this look like in practice? It’s being there on the front lines with your team when there’s a problem and digging in so the team has what they need to navigate the water safely.
But depending on the issue, leaders won’t swoop in to save the day, either.
A trusted leader is teaching and training up their team so that if a problem arises in the future, they have the tools to solve it autonomously. This can be done by challenging the team with critical thinking, asking the hard questions and shining a light on what the solution could be, but not giving the answer.
A trusted leader will show the way for their team to follow. They know they can’t push, pull or carry people along the way.
Teams You Can Trust
Building a team you can trust starts with you. It’s your job to provide the tools your team will need to excel in their area of strength.
Are you reading leadership books in your free time? Absorbing podcasts? Are you facing your own insecurities about not being liked or respected? Are you more concerned with your flaws instead of leveraging your strengths?
When you do the work to grow yourself as a leader and further articulate your vision, your team has a better understanding of why they, and their role, are important to the organization.
Data shows that companies with effective leadership strategies report better returns on their investment in talent.
With this in mind, help your team to see what critical problems they and their role solve for the company and how they generate momentum toward the mission.
When hiring new talent, look for team members that have a passion for the role advertised and are excited about their purpose in the company. This will save you grief later than if you hire for proficiency only.
Building a trusted team is one component of scaling your business. If you don’t know which area of business you need to focus on for scale, take our free assessment.
You’ll receive a score that represents your current business momentum, and details about which area of your business you need to focus on, like team building, in order to scale.
Making the Shift
When you know yourself as a leader and have built a team you can trust, you get to enjoy the fruit of your labor.
This is the time for you to make a critical shift and back off.
Being a trusted leader and having a team worth trusting means nothing if you aren’t ready to empower your people to do the work you hired them to do.
No micromanaging. No hovering. It’s time to vision cast and show the way.
Articulate the framework of what you would like to see happen, but empower your team to execute it how it works for them.
It’s saying “Here is the box, but how you color and paint inside it is up to you.”
Balance this flexibility by communicating your non-negotiable values or processes.
The better you get at communicating your values and vision to the team, the more you can step out of the doer role, stop burning the candle at both ends, and remain dedicated to the work that will move the needle in your business.