Lead, don’t manage

If you’re planning on starting your own business, that means that sooner or later you’re going to be in charge of a team, and the members of that team are going to be your most valuable assets. Not your clients, not your software, not your IT, IP, or your location. Your staff. And it will be your job to find them, invest in them, and engage them.

Yes, I suppose you could say I’m talking about good business management, but in reality I’m talking about good business leadership. Stephen Covey, author of “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” said, “You can buy a person’s hand, but you can’t buy his heart.” In other words, if you pay for someone’s labour, you’ll get their labour, but you may not get their creativity, their ingenuity, or their loyalty. So how do you earn these?

Give your employees a cause to believe in.

This is especially true for millennials, which, as a group, can be challenging to manage. I know. I am one. I was hard to manage (a heartfelt “Sorry!” to all of my old managers out there).

Give your employees a cause to believe in. Click To Tweet

Millennials are often seen as entitled, and sure, some of us are, but for the most part, I think millennials are idealists. We need a cause to believe in and a vision we can buy into. And when we do, we give it our all. But that puts the onus on our managers not to manage us, but to lead and inspire us. That may sound like a tall order, but I don’t think it’s as far out of reach as it seems.

According to author, coach, speaker, and leadership expert John C. Maxwell, “Leadership is influence, nothing more nothing less.” So, let me ask you a question. How much influence do you have? Think about it. Do you have influence at work? At home? On social media? Over your life? Over other people? Most of you likely have some influence in some, if not all, of those areas, so my argument is this: Most of you are already leaders. Want to be a better leader?

Seek leadership development just as you would professional development.

What does this mean? It means you must continue to grow as a leader—to gain new viewpoints, new skills, and new inspirations—and ultimately this boils down to how well you know yourself and your own motivators. Begin by asking yourself: Are you the best you can be? Are you a person that’s worth following? Do you know where you’re going? Do you have an inspiring vision for your life? If the answer to any of these questions is “No,” then ask yourself why that is, and how you can change that.

As a University of British Columbia alumnus, one of the most frustrating things for me when interacting with current students is that many of them don’t know who they are, where they’re going, and what they want to do with their life. In business courses they’ve been taught how to generate corporate vision statements, mission statements, and company values, but they’ve never considered what their own vision, mission, and values are.

Yes, they’re young. Yes, they’ve got time. But, at the end of the day, a company is just an organization of individuals. If those individuals don’t know who they are or why they are there, they won’t be passionate about their work, they won’t gel as a team, and they won’t help your company thrive.

As the business owner, you are the leader. You set the tone, the direction, and the pace. If you know who you are, as a person and as a leader, and what your business represents, in terms of its mission and values, then you can begin to inspire and influence your team.

About Bob Wang

Bob is the owner and founder of Legacy Advantage. He holds a CPA and has experience at a private client services brand, Big 4. Bob's passionate about empowering organizations through quality bookkeeping services.

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  1. […] your company’s most important asset, so it’s not wise to extend terms with them. If you have a great relationship with your team, they may be understanding of the circumstances and accept delays for a short time. […]

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