All business owners are leaders first. And while the development of your product or service started on your shoulders, we all know that it will only thrive with a team of people behind you. Unfortunately, transitioning from the primary responsible party for all business functions to a leader of a larger organization is difficult for many entrepreneurs.
So we’ve put together some top, action-oriented advice to help you show accountability without being taken advantage of or losing your leadership role.
Culture Starts With You
Your company culture guides the actions of the entire organization– that’s why excellent company culture is linked closely with profitability. In addition, the strength and quality of your culture will determine the trust you can have that your employees understand and will act according to company interests.
That culture begins with you. Not only the values and procedures, but none of your employees will take your culture more seriously than you do. So if you want a company of integrity, collaboration, and excellent work, your top job is to display those characteristics yourself.
Maintain Personal Contact With the Entire Company
The best-selling book, “The Culture Code” by Daniel Coyel, gives excellent advice and compelling evidence of the principles that make a great leader. One inspiring example is of a former JC Penny CEO, who consistently visited different stores and offices and chatted with employees of all ranks. He maintained a clear interest and respect for all his employees. In addition, he kept a close view of the daily operations across national operations.
You can’t lead based on rumors and third-hand reports alone. While it is impossible to be hands-on in every aspect of your business, make it a practice to talk with employees of all ranks and departments regularly. Your dedication to hearing from the entire company will send a strong message about your determination to help everyone succeed.
Become an Excellent Communicator
Business owners come from all backgrounds, areas of expertise, and training. And most do not have professional communication training. But entrepreneurs, owners, and CEOs all need to become first-class communicators if they expect to lead with high levels of accountability.
Business leaders need to know how to ask the right questions, hear the intended answers, and sort out misleading reports from critical information. If leaders are to be accountable, they need to take decisive action from legitimate complaints. But if they cannot navigate conflict or high-stakes conversations with nuance, they are likely to miss important information and act on inaccurate feedback.
Listen to Feedback Without an Immediate Reaction
It’s difficult for everyone to hear complaints– particularly about your project, personality, or management style. But accountable leaders remain curious and open to hearing the negative opinions of others.
This does not mean, however, that you should act on every complaint. In fact, overreacting to address a complaint breaks trust and confidence in your employees. This includes racing to make fixes– your employees need to be able to approach you expecting you’ll give them a chance, but not that you will do everything they ask.
Instead, ask good questions, clarify the person’s desire, then review the conversation with a trusted third party. Decide the best action, then communicate clearly to all involved parties.
Hire People Smarter Than You
Your human capital is an invaluable resource to your company. And great leaders understand that they cannot be everywhere and aren’t experts in everything. So they hire trustworthy geniuses who know their field inside and out and give them space to do their job.
This may seem like a lack of accountability since it’s giving others power over jobs you need help understanding. But the understanding that you can’t do the job as well as the shows responsibility to your company by doing what is best for the organization with awareness and humility.
Maintain the Vision and Plan for It
Entrepreneurs and business owners are the keepers of the company vision. They create a map to a specific destination, leading the team with confidence and humility. A good leader clearly understands the company’s standing, available resources, and upcoming challenges.
Leaders also understand that they are ultimately responsible for company success. Accountability to the company vision means actively engaging in all departments, navigating tough decisions with calm and transparent conversation, and owning missteps with grace.
Empower Your People with Proper Support
The larger the corporation, the less a business owner touches the day-to-day work of running the company. But the entire organization requires proper support through equipment, management, staffing, and benefits. So whether you’re still on the front lines of your start-up or years removed from working directly with the product, prove your accountability by ensuring all reasonable needs are met.
This may require ongoing education and training, with an open mind to new trends and studies about employee best practices and needs.
Looking for Hands-On Business Support?
At Relevate, we’re passionate about helping business owners maximize their efforts and create the business performance they know they’re capable of. And while we aren’t typical mentors, we offer hands-on support and powerful, applicable tips and tools for business success.
So whether you’re looking for a mentor, are interested in hiring a business consultant, or want to stay informed about actionable business tips, start a conversation with us today!
Let’s get your business performing up to its potential!