Leaders aren’t all the dominant, decisive types we normally think of.
I meet many types of business owners in the remodeling industry. Their leadership styles vary, but regardless of the style, successful companies need strong leaders. Recently, I worked with an owner, let’s call him Bill, to find his leadership style, and many of the issues I found are more common than you might think.
Where to Start
The full value of Bill’s team members wasn’t realized, because he wasn’t being the leader his company needed. Discovering his unique style was a huge opportunity for him and his company — Bill was getting into the weeds, wanting to do things perfectly and concerned with the feelings of his staff. Bill had the best of intentions, but it resulted in decisions not being made.
Bill included any number of people in decision-making, including a newly formed board of directors. One person really needs to take all the input and make the decision — a point made well in Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable, by Patrick Lencioni. The more people involved in decision-making, the less you, as a leader, own the responsibility to make that decision. That leads to a less-effective company and a rise in frustrations across the organization.
No leader can be hands-off and still be effective.
Finding the Root of the Problem
All organizations need a leader; a captain, a direction-setter, etc. At the root of Bill’s indecisive approach to his business was an uncertainty about how he and his wife wanted to proceed with their personal lives now and in the future. They needed to decide how to integrate the business into their lives, or determine it’s time to step back from the company. I gave Bill homework – to figure out his options and next steps:
Option 1 was to:
- Figure out what he wanted to do besides work
- Determine how long he can reasonably be away at any one time without returning, while factoring in that he’s the company leader and the salesperson
- Set up a small, dynamic leadership team that would take responsibility for the company while he’s away. When he’s there, the team would help him make decisions more quickly and always set deadlines.
Option 1 also assumed Bill wanted to remain running his company. If he determined that he did not, Option 2 was to stop running the company altogether — also a legitimate outcome.
Bill’s third option was to downsize the company, only working with people who are “get ‘er done” personalities. That could work well with some of the steps from Option 1. He would have to assemble a small group as a leadership team, but he has existing personnel in place who can do that.
Bill is not what we think of as a “natural” leader. However, his company needed him to be the leader in order to be successful.
Make the First Decision, the Rest will Follow
If you see yourself in Bill, you have to get clear about what the company should do for you — and what you need to do for the company, as a leader. You can release untapped potential and achieve the success you want and deserve.
You own a company. What do you want it to do for you — and by when? Decide that and work to be the leader your good employees are silently begging you to be.
You don’t have to be dominant to be a good leader — but you do need to be decisive.