Business Owner Blues Require Leadership Changes

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woman business owner leadership change required stress exhaustion

QUESTION:

I built a good company that was growing, strong and healthy for years. Now, after significant expansion, the company is stagnant. I’m having trouble with staff follow-through. Business volume is down. Sometimes I even have a problem keeping everyone on the payroll busy. Some of that is because the marketing team isn’t doing their job well enough.

I’ve tried to correct the situation by letting less effective people go and hiring new people. In fact, staff turnover has been higher lately than my comfort zone because I don’t have enough time to keep on boarding new people.

I’m not getting enough sleep. I can’t be everywhere at once to resolve every problem or manage everyone. I don’t seem to have the employee support I once had. Sometimes I hear people grumbling about an action I take, although they don’t express their dissatisfaction directly to me.

I’ve never had any leadership training. My company is not Google, so I don’t have the resources to buy employee loyalty by providing free meals every day, a rock-climbing wall, etc. Just so you know, I’m not a touchy-feely corporate retreat kind of CEO.

I just want people to do their jobs effectively so we have happy, repeat customers who spread the word and build the business. I don’t have time to consistently tell team members what to do. It’s a real problem when employees tell me they’ll do something and don’t follow-through. I’m depending on them. I’m really frustrated and I’m worried about the bottom line.

ANSWER:

Your Company Needs a New Approach

Your comments tell me that you’re hard-wired to be a creative visionary and a successful business builder. Your personality type helped you build a strong company that was healthy and expansive for years.

Comments like, “I just want people to do their jobs effectively,” and “I’m not a touchy-feely kind of CEO” indicate you’re not as interested in the nitty-gritty maintenance of an ongoing business. You don’t seem to relish the related relationship activities that are required during this stage of your company’s life. Your preferred style of leadership is for employees to consistently follow-through without your playing an active management or problem-solving role.

In the earlier stages of your business, your focus was on building a new business with your brainpower, your passionate success drive, self-discipline and your expertise.

Most likely, you hired employees who had skills related to accomplishing specific tasks you knew were absolutely essential to build your new business. Even though employee abilities and a strengths-based approach to management are still important, your question indicates that you’re longing for a new phase of your professional life. This will require you to choose a new business model. Here are a few possibilities.

  • Make a significant shift from being a business founder to becoming a successful leader.
  • Create a new organizational structure, such as hiring middle-management personnel and removing yourself from day-to-day management responsibilities.
  • Sell your business and retire or use your creative visionary skills in new ways.

No matter what you decide, it’s imperative that you transform what has become a stagnant company into a productive, profitable enterprise so you can enjoy the benefits of what you worked hard to build and once again sleep well at night.

How To Solve The Problem

You mentioned the high cost of employee turnover. Since you say you haven’t had leadership training, you may not yet totally understand the bottom-line advantages . . . the necessity . . . of developing an organizational culture in which every team member is truly engaged and contributing because they perceive WIIFT (what’s in it for them). If you want to recruit and retain the best and brightest contributors, it’s essential that your team members identify a series of specific professional growth opportunities in your organization.

Before you became a CEO, you may have defined success as growing yourself or creating your new organization. If you decide to adapt your leadership style to fit this new phase of your company’s life, you must understand that your success depends on empowering other people to set and achieve goals with the joy that spontaneously emerges from meaning, purpose and passion.

Creating professional growth opportunities for individual team members actually promotes better teamwork, especially when employees co-define these opportunities. This kind of input signifies to employees that leadership is truly interested in them as individuals who have needs, goals and personal responsibilities.

A synergistic effect occurs when a group of satisfied team members grow together. The entire team lifts each other up. The opposite happens in a group in which only some people are satisfied. The group grows apart, so teamwork is disrupted.

Because you said you can’t offer employees Google’s extensive perks to build employee loyalty, I’m guessing that you aren’t yet aware of other ways to create a workplace filled with satisfied employees who support each other and the organization. You may not yet know how to gain strategic clarity, mutual commitment and joy on the job by building a trust-based organization.

Have you created and shared a vision and mission statement that every team member can embrace? Are you aware of proven tools you can use to determine if each person believes in your mission and will be committed to consistent accountability and follow-through?

Today’s successful leaders have separated themselves from any tendency to embrace a command or demand stance because they understand that employees propelled by meaning, vision and purpose are unstoppable powerhouses of productivity and innovation.

Since you’ve already discovered that managing your team in a traditional way isn’t working for you, let’s explore how you can transform your organization into a business based on passion for accomplishing your mission. I think you’ll enjoy exploring the endless ways you can re-shape your organization, step by step. We’ll begin by clarifying your mission and vision statement. I’ll help you set realistic stretch goals and conduct a comprehensive SWOT analysis (identifying your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) before designing your implementation plan. You’ll consistently be able to measure your success.

I know you’ll enjoy letting go of old roles you’ve outgrown because the new paradigm of leadership will create greater success, including more profit. Here’s one example.

Consistently telling people how to accomplish their tasks stifles their enthusiasm, confidence, creativity and trust. A better approach is to hire people who possess the core abilities they need, plus enthusiasm about their professional growth and a passionate desire to fulfill your organization’s mission. Please remember that most intelligent, motivated people can learn new skills.

This approach will also be cost-effective. You’ll avoid the disruption and expense of unnecessary staff turnover, recruiting and on boarding because people will be genuinely excited about your company’s mission and the implications for their own professional growth.

As you can see, if you shift from your traditional understanding of a CEO to this new approach, you’ll be working ON your business instead of feeling overwhelmed or exhausted by working IN your business. When you transform your business into an organization of trust and employee engagement, you’ll be much less stressed.

Additional Challenges You May Face

If you’re like most of us who make the shift from an old paradigm management style and adopt proven new leadership strategies, internal challenges will emerge. We’ll address each of them, as needed, during each step of the process. I’ll describe a few examples below.

Your inner critic (a negative, internal voice that most high achievers possess) will probably try to create self-doubt about your leadership ability, your confidence or your professional judgment. I’ll teach you how to effectively use the energy of this potentially destructive force in productive ways.

If you still hold the perfectionistic tendencies of most business creators whose passion drove them to create a new business, your next step toward being an effective leader will be a personal as well as a professional journey. Most of us resist change, even when we know change is to our advantage and we recognize that what we’ve been doing isn’t effective.

Even though you can’t be everywhere at once and you can never personally resolve every issue that arises, it’s often difficult to turn certain decisions over to team members. Sometimes we don’t trust the wisdom of some team members to use new freedom to determine how to do certain parts of their jobs without our intervention or supervision.

That’s why the systematic approach we’ll take during your coaching sessions is so important. You’ll confirm who can successfully cover which roles before you transfer some of your responsibilities to other people. You’ll transform your organization, step by step, into an organization in which you have set the mission, vision and parameters. Because you’ll empower your team to make effective decisions, you’ll no longer feel out of control when it’s time to turn certain matters over to other people.

Your True Leadership Goal

You may not have understood that guiding team members by using proven listening skills and coaching questions (which you can learn) is much more important and effective than old paradigm management methods, such as directing people to accomplish tasks and telling them how to do so. You may not yet totally understand how to encourage employees to tactfully share their disagreements concerning your actions. It’s essential to receive honest feedback from people who are on the front lines, especially given the challenges your company is facing.

By the time we finish your series of coaching sessions, you’ll fully understand that the greatest contribution of a leader is to create and empower other leaders. Elevated morale and teamwork will accelerate profits and you’ll enjoy sleeping well again.

Discover How to Shorten Your Learning Curve

I walked through every stage of transforming my leadership style when I created and directed a national organization. I’m eager to help you make your learning curve easier and faster. Just complete the short application form here so I can contact you for a complimentary 20-minute consultation. If we decide we’re a good fit as client and coach, we’ll discuss a coaching agreement. I look forward to being of assistance so you can gain the compensation and job title you deserve.


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About the Author

Doris Helge

© 2019 Doris Helge, Ph.D. at www.WomensLeadershipTips.com Doris Helge, Ph.D., MCC is a Certified Master Executive Leadership Coach and author of bestselling books, including “Joy on the Job.” Click here now to sign up for your complimentary Leadership Coaching Consultation.

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