Happy November! This month is always a month of thankfulness for me. As I enter the holiday season and hit the final stretch of the year, I am always reminded of what is really important to me. As I reflect on this year, I am grateful not only for the chance to own a business but also for the journey that owning a business has taken me on. Being a small business owner is tough, but it has taught me so much over the last 8 years about myself and about others. We have put over three thousand people to work since inception and I am truly grateful for the chance to help so many.
I recently had the chance to catch up with a friend and I shared with him how blessed I feel that we have been in business for 8 years, I also talked about how hard it has been. We talked about the journey of owning and running a business. While the journey is what I am most grateful for, it is what has been the most challenging. In the beginning, I adopted the mindset that failure was not an option. I had to work incredibly hard, doing everything—answering phones delivering on sales, accounting. It was thrilling, exhausting, and frustrating all at the same time. As the business grew and I added staff, my role became that of manager. I had to set and manage expectations and confront employees when expectations were not met. It was scary, frustrating, and humbling. I made mistakes; some employees forgave them, others left. Now I am blessed with a phenomenal team. With other people now serving as managers, my role has evolved into that of leader.
Leaders are not dictators, but rather those people who inspire and motivate others to follow. This is a tough transition for an entrepreneur who “needs to do it all.” In preparation for this new role, I have researched qualities of respected leaders— if I can learn from others, I will. In my research I found several constants that I want to share with you today. Leaders who are loved and effective have the following qualities:
1. They ask questions. Before making decisions, good leaders ask for opinions, thoughts and ideas. Good leaders always ask for more information before making decisions.
2. They empathize. Good leaders recognize that mistakes will be made and that life's problems may come into the workplace. But rather than ignoring these things, good leaders see people as people - people who make mistakes and have troubles.
3. They are curious. Good leaders are curious about lots of things and subsequently are open to anything - including criticism, feedback and ideas from employees.
4. They enjoy life. Good leaders are positive and grateful. No one wants to follow a negative Nancy or complaining Charles.
5. They listen. Good leaders want to hear what their employees have to say, and they will prioritize time for listening.
6. They act. Good leaders act on what they have learned, and by acting they demonstrate that they take seriously the insights of others.
7. They work hard. Good leaders work hard, which shows employees that they value their part on the team.
I am taking these to heart when going down this next journey, and I hope it helps you as you continue down yours. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving season! Please let us know how we can help you during this final stage of 2015 and into 2016.