You’re an A-grade player – focused and passionate about your life’s work. You do whatever it takes to move the needle in your business, from late nights at the office to days away from home as you hit the road in pursuit of your dreams. You know what you want, when you want it, and you might even know how to get there – but you know you can’t get there on your own. As tenacious and motivated as you are, as hard as you work, you are acutely aware that there is too much for you alone to do and to do to your usual high standard. You have a team of people around you comprising various different characters, personalities and skill sets that you’ve collected along the way on your mission to build the vehicle through which you hope to realise your dreams, but you are acutely aware of the disconnect between your drive and ambition and your teams true motivations.
Are they 9-5ers? Does your team consistently go above and beyond the call of duty or do they do the bare minimum? If your team is anything like mine, you’ll have a fairly broad mix covering the full length and breadth of the spectrum.
The successful leaders in the World today know that there is only so far they can go on their journey on their own; they know they cannot be jack-of-all-trades and be a master of all of them. It is said that it takes 10,000 hours (roughly 416 days), or 10,000 repetitions of executing a skill over and over again to become a true master. That’s a lot of hours. I first heard this in my martial arts training, being told that to become a true master at any one technique takes practicing that technique with good form at least 10,000 times.
Relating this to business – our business being the vehicle or instrument we are building and using to achieve our dreams – you can see how difficult it would be to firstly spend 10,000 hours mastering each element required to run a successful business (advertising and marketing, sales, management, team building, business development, technical support, logistics, human resources, health and safety… and the list goes on), and secondly to find the time to lead a balanced and fulfilling life. If you never see your family because of your blinkered commitment to driving your business, then one must start to ask – what am I doing this for?
This is why having a solid team around you to work with you is so important in any business as it grows and solidifies it’s place in whatever market place you have chosen to play in. The struggle we have as business owners is that we often see a lack of motivation and drive in our teams compared with the veracity with which we expect from ourselves. It’s important to understand that you and your team are playing for different reasons when the business is lacking a congruent goal that’s bigger than itself, or bigger than you the business owner or founder. For the founder, the business is their baby. They quite literally gave birth to this machine from nothing more than a thought fuelled by a fiery passion. Those people who take that leap of faith and start their own business are visionaries, and they put everything into building their baby up to be a strong and self-sustaining entity that has the power to make a real difference in the World. It’s the difference between the things you would do for your kids – like kissing them goodbye when their faces are covered in snot from the latest batch of germs they’ve brought home from their clubs or school – and the line you draw when it comes to the children of others. There’s just no comparison.
The same is true for you and your employees when it comes to your business. Your business is your baby, so you will delicately clean the mess caused by the explosive bowel movements into a nappy that’s under specified for the job without hesitation. This is not the same for your employees, and it’s important you make a concerted effort to understand that, and the reasons for it.
That said, it is totally possible to hire and build a team into a group of individuals who are A-grade players and who believe in the mission of the business, and this is where your skills as a leader are of paramount importance. In fact, when you get to the stage in your business where you are ready to start building your team, your primary focus should be on just that – building your team.
I still do a lot of different things day to day in my business, but the one thing that takes up the most of my time (and rightly so) is providing counsel to the people who make up my team. I know that if I invest heavily in those people whom I’ve brought on board to build my business along side me, I will set them and my business up for success by giving them the tools they need to be the best they can be. When my team are performing at their best, my business is performing at it’s best, and my clients get the very best. Look after your team, and they will look after your clients.
I invest a lot of time personally into personal development, learning and growth. I read every day, and even if it’s only 7 minutes of an audio book on my short commute to work in the morning, I am able to learn something in those 7 minutes that I can implement in my life straight away. My passion and purpose in life is to strive each day to be a better version of myself than I was the day previous, but more importantly I am dedicated to passing that knowledge on to those around me so that as I elevate myself, I am also elevating those on this journey with me. Service is key to fulfilment; invest in your team, and they will tenaciously invest passion back into your business.
It is so important that, as a business owner, you put things in place to facilitate this perpetual growth both in your life and in the lives of the people you work with. Business and life coaching isn’t reserved for managers, owners and founders – it is pivotal to the success of your staff, and your staff are pivotal to the success of your business and it’s mission.
Invest in yourself to move the needle, but don’t forget about your tribe in the process. Team building, coaching, training and support are key for building an A-grade team. Imagine if you could employ 10 clones of yourself, with the drive and tenacity you show up with every single day? What effect would that have on your ability to grow your business to achieve your mission statement? You obviously cannot clone yourself, otherwise I’m sure a lot of business owners would have already done so given the constant struggle it can be to find and retain good staff – but you can invest in your people, and use your knowledge, passion and resources to set them up for success. Focus on this, and you will inadvertently set yourself up for success without even having to try. Shift your focus from yourself to your team by giving them the tools, environment and support they need to thrive. Everyone needs a mentor – your staff included.