Arguably, the toughest job you can have is being a boss. (That's even more true when you're also an owner.)
Leading people is stressful, demanding, often overwhelming, yet also incredibly fulfilling and rewarding--as long as you do everything possible to truly inspire, serve, and lead. And that means avoiding making excuses for not doing your best:
1. "I don't need to thank people for doing their jobs."
You should. Praising employees is the courteous thing to do, and from a performance point of view, praise reinforces positive behaviors and makes it much more likely those behaviors will occur in the future.
By all means, expect your employees to do their jobs, but praise them when they do--because that's your job.
2. "I'm under too much pressure."
Of course you are. Join the leadership club. Every boss is stuck in between, with employees the "rock" and customers, vendors, investors, and even yourself the "hard place."
If demands seem overwhelming and pull you too far away from your team, get your employees more involved in your projects and responsibilities.
They'll be glad to help, especially if they gain skills and exposure in the process.
3. "I don't make enough to deal with this (crap)."
You're right. Great leaders are chronically undercompensated and underappreciated, and that will probably never change.
But great employers see the satisfaction they gain from praising, developing, mentoring, and helping employees reach their goals as a part of their total compensation package.
If you don't see it that way, rethink whether you want to run a business--otherwise you'll always be dissatisfied.
4. "People work better when I just leave them alone."
If that's true, it means you're the problem.
Great employees don't need (or want) to be told what to do, but they do need to hear they do a great job--it will help them learn about new directions or strategies. Everyone likes some amount of attention.
Just make sure the attention you give makes a positive impact.
5. "I shouldn't have to deal with all the politics/agendas/emotions."
Company politics can be a factor even for a business owner in total command of the operation.
Tough. It's your company. If the culture is bad, fix it. If politics keep people from doing their jobs or performing as well as they could, fix it.
Taking care of any problems that make it hard for your employees to do their best is your job. Do your job.
6. "She's starting to get too much credit."
Don't be afraid your employees might outshine you. Your goal is to have employees outshine you.
Great leaders surround themselves with outstanding talent. That's how they become great leaders.
The better your team, and the individuals that make up your team, the better you look.
7. "It was good enough for me ... "
Do you train employees by tossing them into the fire simply because that's how you were once treated? Whenever you feel something was "good enough for me," realize that it isn't good enough for your employees.
Determine the best way to train and develop employees, and then make it happen. Any bad experiences you had should shape a more positive approach, not serve as a blueprint.
8. "I need to spend some time with employees, so I'll go chat with Mary."
You need to get to know employees on a personal level, but do you gravitate toward those with whom you share common interests? Maybe so, but the employees you need to connect with the most are often those with whom you have the least in common.
Every employee deserves your attention and respect. So take an interest. Ask questions. Find a common interest--even if it's simply trying to help that person reach his or her career and personal goals.
When you make a sincere effort, your employees will make it easy for you. After all, we naturally appreciate anyone who is interested in us.
9. "We don't get along, so why waste my time?"
Few things are more awkward than working with, or even just talking to, employees who you feel don't like you.
Reach out and clear the air. Say, "John, I don't feel our working relationship is as positive as it could be, and I'm sure that's my fault. I really want to make it better."
Then let John vent. Sure, you may not like hearing what he says, but once you do, you'll know how to make the situation better.
Making things better is what your job is all about.