Over the past 25 years, I have talked to thousands of business leaders from many different industries. I have met with some inspirational leaders who have taken their teams to great heights. And I have met leaders that have subsequently driven their businesses into the ground due to poor leadership. For the most part, both groups wanted to succeed and had the drive to do so, but there was one thing that they handled differently.
I want to share that with you in the hopes that you will be more mindful of how you lead yourself and your team.
As a business owner, you don't know everything. And honestly, you never will. There is always something new to learn, a new challenge to tackle, and another skill that you can improve upon. We are all ignorant about something and that is perfectly OK. But to say that ignorant leaders will ultimately fail isn't really a fair statement. Ignorance is something that we all have to deal with. But how you deal with it, and how you handle it within your own business and team, makes a huge difference in your ability to grow. The best thing that you can do as a leader is to learn how to spot your weaknesses, and find areas that you don't know enough about and work towards improving in those areas.
A few places that you should be aware of.
There are lots of areas that you could be ignorant about in your own business, but these are the areas that I see often that can be the most detrimental to your growth.
Your own behaviors and habits. You may be ignorant of your own behaviors, but your team is watching and taking notes. How you behave plays a huge role in setting the tone for your company culture and behavior.
Your performance. Are you constantly late to meetings? Did you promise a deliverable to a team member and then fail to deliver? Sticking your head in the sand and ignoring your poor performance will harm your business.
What matters to your team. Another place that I see a lot of ignorance in leadership is when it comes to the goals, dreams, and aspirations of their employees. What do they like? What do they dislike? What is their family life like and how would they like to see their career develop in the years ahead? There is no reason to turn a blind eye to your team and their needs. Make the effort to get to know your team.
Your team's abilities. Another place that a leader should pay attention to is their team's abilities. Knowing where they stand on the capability spectrum will help you determine where you are able to go in the future and how best to utilize your team to reach your goals. Being ignorant about your team's capabilities will not only cause frustration and missed opportunities, it can also cause you to lose valuable team members due to a lack of understanding and leadership.