Doer to Leader


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When we first start off in the entrepreneurship game, we’re usually wearing all the hats, right? We’re the salesperson, the marketer, the customer service rep, and often the product developer all rolled into one. We’re ‘doing’ everything. But here’s the thing, as your business starts to grow, and you start to bring on more people, you can’t keep juggling all those roles. And to be honest, you shouldn’t. Instead, it’s time to step into the role of a leader. As a leader, you’re more like a conductor, orchestrating your team towards the goal, guiding them, and giving them the chance to shine in their areas of expertise.

So, you’re asking, how exactly do you transition from the ‘doer’ to the ‘leader’? The very first step in this journey is mastering the art of delegation. Now, if you’re anything like me, this might feel like a herculean task at first. After all, we’re used to being the ones in the driver’s seat, taking care of everything ourselves, right? But believe me when I say this, learning to delegate tasks to your team members can be a complete game-changer.

Imagine this: Instead of juggling a dozen tasks, feeling stressed and spread too thin, you’re handing off those tasks to your team, freeing up your mental and physical bandwidth. What does this mean? More time and energy to focus on the ‘big picture’ stuff – strategy, growth, partnerships, and all that jazz. Sounds pretty good, right?

However, delegation isn’t about randomly tossing tasks at your team members and hoping they’ll manage. No – it’s about understanding the unique skills and talents that each of your team members brings to the table and thoughtfully assigning tasks that highlight those strengths. Think about it, someone who’s got a knack for numbers would probably be much quicker and effective at handling financial spreadsheets, while a team member with fantastic people skills might be best suited to customer relations or team coordination.

The idea is to assign responsibilities that enable each team member to contribute in a meaningful way, using their best skills. Delegation, done right, can not only reduce your workload but also boost the confidence and morale of your team. It’s a clear signal that you trust them and value their contribution. And when people feel trusted and valued, they’re more likely to take ownership, perform better, and stick around longer – a win-win situation for everyone involved.

…always, and I mean, always keep learning. Becoming a leader doesn’t mean you suddenly have all the answers. No way! In fact, some of the best leaders out there are the ones who recognize that they don’t know everything, and that’s totally okay.

Remember, delegation is a skill that you can get better at with practice. It might feel awkward or uncomfortable at first, especially if you’re used to doing everything yourself. But, keep at it, and over time you’ll see how it transforms not just your role but your entire team dynamic.

Alright, once you’re feeling more comfortable with delegation, it’s time to bring communication into the spotlight. And by communication, I don’t just mean passing on information or instructions. I’m talking about good, solid, clear-as-a-bell communication that leaves no room for confusion or misunderstanding. The kind of communication that weaves your team together and propels everyone towards the same goal.

As a leader, one of your most critical roles is to communicate your vision to your team. What are you all working toward? Why does it matter? And how do you plan to get there? These are the kind of big questions that your team needs clear answers to. When they members understand the big picture and where they fit into it, they’re more likely to feel motivated, committed, and engaged. They’re no longer just punching the clock; they’re contributing to a meaningful mission.

And don’t forget about the power of feedback. Regular, constructive feedback is a key ingredient. Celebrate the wins, acknowledge the hard work, and when there’s room for improvement, provide guidance on how to get there. This kind of open, constructive feedback loop can spur personal development and keep everyone aligned and moving forward.

Now, here’s the part where a lot of people stumble – listening. Good communication isn’t just about talking; it’s just as much about listening. As a leader, you need to keep your ear to the ground, tuning in to the thoughts, ideas, and concerns of your team. Create an environment where your team feels comfortable voicing their opinions, asking questions, and sharing their ideas. Not only can this spark innovation and problem-solving, but it can also help you spot and address any issues or concerns before they snowball.

Remember, communication is a two-way street. It’s not just about you broadcasting messages, but also about listening, acknowledging, and responding. When you embrace open and effective communication, you’re showing your team that they’re not just cogs in the machine, but valued members of the journey. And when your team feels seen, heard, and valued, that’s when the real magic happens. You’ll be amazed at how much more cohesive, productive, and engaged your team can become.

So, one of your employees just told you that she’s pregnant.  Feeling overwhelmed, with no idea where to start?  After all, HR just got dumped on your plate.  It’s not your zone of genius, and you don’t want it to be.

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The last, but certainly not the least important step in this transformation is developing a commitment to lifelong learning. I really can’t emphasize this enough – always, and I mean, always keep learning. Becoming a leader doesn’t mean you suddenly have all the answers. No way! In fact, some of the best leaders out there are the ones who recognize that they don’t know everything, and that’s totally okay. Instead, they keep their minds open and their curiosity piqued, always on the lookout for opportunities to learn and grow.

Leadership involves a broad range of skills, and there’s always something new you can learn to enhance your leadership abilities. This could mean picking up a book that gives you a fresh perspective on leadership or management. There are so many incredible books out there that offer a wealth of insights and wisdom. Or it could mean seeking out a mentor, someone who’s been there, done that, and can guide you along the way. A good mentor can provide invaluable advice, support, and feedback.  And help you avoid pitfalls and make better decisions.

Don’t shy away from courses or workshops, either. Whether it’s a local seminar, an online course, or even a full-blown degree program, structured learning can give you a deep dive into specific skills or areas of knowledge. And guess what, it’s not just about leadership or business skills. Learning about a wide range of topics can give you a more rounded perspective, improve your problem-solving abilities, and even spark innovative ideas.

And remember, feedback is your friend. As a leader, it’s crucial to be open to feedback, not just from your mentors or peers, but also from your team. Constructive criticism might sting a little at first, but it’s one of the best ways to identify your blind spots and areas for improvement. Take it in stride, use it as a learning opportunity, and show your team that it’s okay to make mistakes and learn from them.

The bottom line is, being a leader means being a learner. It’s about recognizing that there’s always more to learn, more to improve, and more to discover. And in this fast-paced, ever-changing business world, this commitment to continuous learning isn’t just a nice-to-have; it’s a must-have. So, keep that curiosity alive, keep challenging yourself, and keep learning. Because every new thing you learn is another step in that journey from ‘doer’ to ‘leader.’

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