Back in the early years of my business I was struggling.
Not from a lack of direction, workload or help either. It was all there in abundance. I had a clear idea of what I wanted to achieve. And I had clear goals for my team as well.
But, no matter what I did, these goals were frustratingly not being met by my team.
And according to a recent survey I did, 77% of the respondents are feeling exactly how I did. They’re struggling with the same obstacle. Their teams not taking ownership in their jobs.
They’re trapped feeling like they need to micromanage their staff to get anything done.
This feeling had caused me a great deal of stress over the years, even before I’d started out in my own business. Despite several leadership courses and books I’d digested on the topic.
It was when I was faced with unhappy clients that were about to leave, that I knew I had to do something different. I needed to learn how to motivate my team.
That started me looking to the great thought leaders on the topic of management and leadership. The first few were Michael Gerber and his book The E-Myth, and Dan Pink’s talk on Motivation.
In this post I’m going to share the two key lessons I learned that have been the cornerstone of my own transformation as a manager and leader.
1. Successful Leaders Don’t Micromanage
This was the first realization that transformed how I motivated my team.
In Michael Gerber’s book, which I read several times as I stood face-to-face with the prospect of losing my business, he made a clear distinction that revolutionized how I led my team.
I could no longer be a micromanager for the results my staff were meant to be achieving.
I needed to delegate the business’ workload and know – with confidence – that the work was going to be done. Correctly. Without me having to step in and fix it every single time.
Otherwise there’d be no point in me delegating. And there would be no weight taken off my shoulders. I’d still be working a job, instead of running a business.
A couple of months ago, I asked a contractor I’d known for quite a while to do some plumbing at my house. I told him about the issues we were having and gave him a list of things we’d like to have improved. We agreed to work on a time-and-materials basis. We’d buy the stuff – he’d put it in. Since we knew each other, we didn’t make any formal contract. Instead, we made a verbal agreement, and gave him the go-ahead to get started.
What started out in a good direction quickly went south. (more…)
When I was in my mid-twenties I thought I was pretty together. Outwardly it showed this way too. I worked full time as a lending officer at a large bank. I lived in a nice apartment in Los Angeles, and I had lots of friends. But inside I was anxious. I worried a lot, felt overwhelmed a lot of the time. It seemed I was always running behind. Whether it was taking too long to return a phone call, running late for work, or not doing something I had promised, it would weigh on me. I remember driving to work, racing down the freeway, and feeling rushed and hurried. The conversation in my head would go something like this “Damn, why didn’t I wake up earlier? Why was I always waiting until the last possible second to leave the house? Why aren’t these cars moving faster?” About the moment I would realize I was going to be late, the stories would start to swirl in my head. The stories I would tell when I arrived at work about why I was late. More anxiety – now I have to make up an excuse for why I was late. Over time I could see that people didn’t appreciate, nor even listen to my stories of why I was late, the simple truth was that I was not keeping my word about showing up on time. All the stories in the world wouldn’t change that. (more…)
I often say that asking questions of people is one of the greatest gifts you can give another human being. It give us two things – allows us to share what is important to us, and gives us greater clarity. This week my friend and colleague Chip Doyle with Sandler Sales (one of the top sales training organizations in the US) published a newsletter that talks about how to powerfully ask questions in the sales process. In the article (a one minute read) Chip gives some very specific ways you can ask questions that will help your customer and you get clear about what isn’t working, and what they would like, allowing you to provide better solutions and increase your odds of closing the sale. Great read.
Wishing you much success,
About a month ago I was rambling on to my business coach about how I was “second guessing” myself in how to structure a project we were discussing and she suddenly asked me “do you always follow a recipe when you’re cooking?” Knowing that I have written a cookbook, and that I love to cook, she fully expected the answer to be no. But it wasn’t. I explained that in fact I usually do check the recipe before I begin cooking a dish, even the ones I know well. Truth is, I get a bit fixated on “doing it perfectly.” She gently laughed and said “well I want to challenge you to cook without using a recipe for one whole week.”
That week has turned into a month, and with the exception of a few specific recipes my family asked me to make that I don’t know off the top of my head, I have been cooking without following a recipe. Here is what I’ve noticed… (more…)