By Jared Weitz, founder & CEO of United Capital Source Inc.
Successful entrepreneurs often emphasize the importance of instilling confidence and optimism within their teams. This makes sense because it allows employees to push themselves without the burden of fear.
Confidence and optimism stem from the business leader’s abilities and decisions. The team must feel that their leader is making good decisions in terms of strategy and overall management. When employees question their leader’s capacity in either area, their confidence and optimism begin to dwindle. Unfortunately, several common habits of business leaders can create this scenario.
As a veteran entrepreneur, I’ve witnessed many fellow business leaders inadvertently undermine their own authority and/or expertise by failing to recognize these tendencies. Here are three habits of entrepreneurs that often cause employees to lose confidence and optimism:
1. Lack of Clarity and Detail When Communicating
Before I started my career, I didn’t understand how communication could count as a “skill.” Then I discovered the shocking amount of people who have great ideas but aren’t so great at expressing them. Even more shocking is the amount of brilliant entrepreneurs who belong to this group. Some have plenty of passion but lack clarity and detail when explaining their decisions to employees. When the meeting or conversation ends, the employees are still unsure about their leader’s logic.
All the money and perks in the world won’t matter if you can’t get your employees to believe in your ideas. Being able to thoroughly explain the logic of your strategies shows that you’ve put extensive thought into them and are willing to address any notions of doubt.
In addition to new strategies, I’ve found that it’s crucial to be clear when responding to inquiries from employees. No one likes vague, open-ended answers, like the infamous “We’re working on it.” Neglecting to provide clear responses gives the impression that you expect employees to blindly follow orders, no questions asked.
2. Not Taking Suggestions or Criticisms From Employees
No business leader has only great ideas. It’s just not possible, and your employees know it. Plenty of successful entrepreneurs would likely admit that feedback from top employees has continuously prevented them from making serious mistakes. At my company, employees are encouraged to voice concerns with general strategies or management tactics. My ideas are always being challenged, regardless of how much success I’ve achieved thus far. If my top employees just told me I was right all the time, the rest of my team would suspect that my own imperfections were being ignored and therefore destined to be repeated.
Young businesses often create new leadership positions to make the changes they need to grow. In many cases, a primary responsibility of the new employee is to offset the flaws of the CEO. This shows the team that the CEO is aware of his or her flaws and has taken action to correct them. So, when looking to fill new leadership positions, consider the personal flaws that are holding your company back. The winning candidate should shine in the areas where you struggle.
3. Thinking They Can Do Everything Themselves
The days of the stereotypical “DIY” entrepreneur are over. In the past, employees might have been impressed by leaders who work 16 hour days and handle multiple important responsibilities on their own. Nowadays, however, leaders of this nature are more likely to be viewed as selfish. Employees would rather see leaders who, as mentioned in the previous section, understand that they need help and are not qualified to handle certain responsibilities.
As your business grows, you and your employees will learn which elements are most integral to your success (marketing, business development, customer service, etc.) Your employees will then expect you to hire specialists in your business’s key elements. The longer you go without filling the necessary roles, the more respect you will lose from your team.
Today’s Workforce Doesn’t Blindly Follow Orders
In my experience, I’ve found that today’s workforce has a sharper eye for spotting chinks in their superior’s armor. They don’t just automatically pledge their loyalty to someone who works hard and claims to be an industry expert. Instead, they are more likely to pledge their loyalty to leaders who recognize that their companies will not succeed unless they also become experts in running a small business.
Jared Weitz is founder & CEO of United Capital Source Inc.