This saying strikes a chord and gets especially real when we are fond of the people you lead. It is difficult to keep business and friendship separated, and when we fail, the consequences are painful for all parties involved. So, how do you create a work environment that leverages the power of people who enjoy working together with the challenges of making the hard decisions?
Let’s start with leadership basics.
- Being a leader is metaphorically similar to being a parent. No one child can be your favorite, and when discipline is required, it must be doled out with consistency, regardless of who is being disciplined.
- Discipline, or in most cases, course corrections, is a leader’s way to improve performance and should be treated as teaching moments, not lectures.
- Real consequences have a place in business. When an employee makes a mistake, they should be part of the solution. Adults learn from doing, and learning comes from trial and error.
- Frankness and integrity go hand in hand. If someone messes up, deal with it immediately and don’t gloss over the facts. Be “brutally honest” when the actions or efforts call for it.
- Give time to each employee. Weekly one-to-one meetings are a great way to keep the communications channels open to all staff. Some of your team are outspoken, but some are reticent to speak their mind. One-to-ones should not be times for corrective conversations; those should happen at the incident of the infraction. One-to-ones are about listening to the challenges, fears, anxieties, and struggles of the employee. The one-to-one is their time to vent and your time to listen and respond to resolve their concern.
- Demonstrate your interest in the employee’s career path. Let them share their dreams and aspirations. Help them to understand the process of advancement. Help them to identify what they need to do to take their next career step. Help them to know how to integrate family time, work time, pleasure time, and personal time. When necessary, help them to gain the skills, experience, and knowledge for their next career step.
Using these six tactics will help you manage the loneliness at the top. But, there is also peer help available. Establish a couple of peer relationships that will allow you to bounce ideas off of each other as you struggle with the hard decisions of leadership. Having a sounding board and a sympathetic ear will provide you with the confidence and emotional support you need to do the right things for the company, your employees, and yourself.