Immediately after finishing high school, I wanted to explore the business world.
I wanted to know its ins and outs. Finding out what it takes to achieve the desired result as a team was my main objective.
And I figured I could do these things if I became an insider.
Thus, I applied for the job of a content writer at a Digital Marketing firm.
The pay was pretty low but it didn’t bug me since that wasn’t my topmost priority. The fact that they took me in was a big achievement already.
Furthermore, since I had been blogging on my own websites since middle school, I knew a thing or two about Search Engine Optimization as well.
Thus, it didn’t take me long to take responsibility for a lot of things by delivering more than what was expected of me.
Here are a few major things this journey taught me about business and leadership:
1) The power of being present as a boss is immeasurable.
First of all, I realized that there is an unannounced wall between the employees and the boss in a typical workplace.
This is greatly reflected in the way the boss is treated and the office that is selected for him.
However, if you are a business owner, getting the admiration (jealousy and hate) from your employees isn’t the first priority.
Your priority is to get the employees to do the task at hand.
You don’t just want the job done. You want it to be done with the same level of enthusiasm with which you would do it.
Now, how do you motivate those working under you to do the job with the same vision?
Turns out, you need to be present around them. You need to work with them.
When an employee sees that those above them are excited about a task, they will give the best of themselves to add the most value.
A different kind of energy flows in the workplace when the boss is around.
Moreover, if you sit down to understand your employee’s job, you will have the idea of how every part of your business functions. This then gives you hints to manage these intricate parts together to run a system as a whole.
2) A great leader isn’t necessarily a great doer, but s/he is a great motivator.
The Digital Marketing firm I joined is run by two partners. One of them comes from the technology field and the other has an apparently successful managerial career in the past.
As you might have guessed by now, the second partner struggled to understand the basics of Digital Marketing.
However, when it came to organizing the digital marketing team, he was the perfect guy.
With the use of personal stories and anecdotes, he was a great persuader.
So how do you put a team together like he did to thrive for a common purpose?
The right answer is to go all in. Your employees aren’t ready to give their best if you don’t dirty your own hands first.
One of the reasons why Julius Caesar was so successful as a leader is that he led his troops from the front. While other Roman officers marched behind to be personally safe, Julius Caesar fought alongside the front line soldiers.
This made the soldiers believe that Caesar wouldn’t put them in the risk which he wouldn’t take himself.
The result? The soldiers fought harder and more confidently than ever before.
Similarly, a spoonful of humor also helps to put a team together.
3) You need to meet with the people you want to lead as often as possible.
If it is a business, frequently call your employees for meetings.
This can be personal or group meetings and each adds to your strategy differently.
I witnessed that it is really difficult to bring everyone on the same page. All employees have a personality of their own and hence, different things make them tick differently.
If a leader is unable to address a tiny issue in the workplace, the same issue will spread around the office like wildfire.
Also, you will hire toxic people no matter what you do in the course of running a business. These are ones who find a fault in everything. It is as if their world revolves around the word “No.”
Toxic employees can sabotage the work ecosystem by spreading dissatisfaction, negativity, and hate.
However, on the flip side, these are the easiest people you can utilize to implement your strategies. This is because the reason why they are dissatisfied is that they need more attention in the first place. Give them the care they need and you will get a loyal warlord for life.
No matter what the employee’s personality is, meet them and share what you are feeling. Honesty is a great asset to a leader.
Also, never forget to ask what they feel about everything. Many a time, you will gain a clearer understanding of a problem or a better solution by just asking your employees. This is because they are the ones who are the nearest to the battlefield.
4) Don’t start a business you don’t understand.
If being the owner of a company or building a brand good enough to cash out is your main goal, you have a better career as an investor.
But if you want to be a CEO, only get into the business you understand.
It is a great disappointment if your employees don’t get any value from you.
Also, if you don’t understand the nooks and crannies, you will struggle even with the basics.
It isn’t worthwhile for you to start learning about your business from scratch when you are expected to lead with a better gameplan than your competitors. Not for your personal growth and not for the business.
You certainly have an expertise of your own and it is a good idea to capitalize on that. However, if you want to test new waters, do your homework and spend time understanding it thoroughly.
5) Give your employees a sense of ownership.
If you think your employees work for you to get a paycheck at month’s end, you will probably not make a great leader.
Yes, employees work primarily to get paid. But if you make them confined to that, they will only work to a degree that equals their monthly salary.
And it is but a fact that every employee thinks they are paid less than what they actually deserve.
If you combine these two things together, what picture of a work environment comes to your mind?
As a leader of an organization, your task is to decentralize the system and handover ownership to those working under you.
The workplace gets magical if everyone is on a mission to accomplish something for the company they think is theirs.
Give them a personal challenge, promise them small treats, or assign responsibility to each of them.
It is an added benefit if the new responsibility also gives them a power they would otherwise not have.
I’m a teenager, but I have realized that even adults want to be pampered and given the tools which they are not yet completely ready to handle.
Even if you are sure about something, let them conduct meetings among themselves so that they can reach the same conclusion. This keeps them entitled to the decision they make.
If you are given the responsibility to mobilize a group to achieve a certain goal, always put a greater emphasis on the group.
Leadership is never about being the best more than it is about letting the people you lead to be the best.