I’ve been a business owner for a while now, but launching Angle 33 over the last year has helped me to reflect on my role as a leader with fresh eyes. If I were the arrogant type, I suppose I would just assume that I am a good leader, regardless of what anyone says, but I suspect then, that I wouldn’t be nearly as effective.
No matter what your business, the characteristics of a strong leader are generally the same. Although, there might be specific rules that apply only to your business, e.g. If wine is your business, don’t drink more than you sell!
I’ve asked myself what makes a good leader and have considered using company productivity as a metric for measuring my success. Yet, that metric could be misleading; if you have really good processes in place, employees have to meet specific numbers each day, simply because the system requires it.
My personal choice for growing, as a leader, is to talk with employees. Everyone has bad days, but generally I want to see that people working for Angle 33 are happy. If they aren’t happy working for Angle 33, I believe that is a direct reflection of my poor leadership.
This seems rather basic, but as Entrepreneur Magazine tells us, communication and interpersonal skills are 2 of the 10 Characteristics of a Superior Leader. They say that even a strong mission, vision and set of goals won’t get you very far if you are out of touch with your employees. They also say that face-to-face interactions are the best way to communicate, even in the age of email, social networking and remote meetings.
Of course, as a small company, it is more natural for me to talk with my employees, daily and in person. I am grateful for that, because I am able to address and mitigate any potential issues quickly—and can see almost immediately how my team responds to or is affected by changes.
I look back on my life and realize how many leaders I have had the privilege to know. I am reminded that often, it is hard to understand that you are in the presence of a leader until you step away and really see how they influenced you—in ways you couldn’t have seen in the moment. These people typically led by example and provided me with opportunities to empower myself and be inspired.
Leadership is NOT getting the best out of someone solely for the company’s sake. I believe leadership involves a true understanding of what makes each individual tick, and what he or she want out of their own lives. I also believe that leadership is allowing your team to use their individual strengths to the fullest potential and providing them the autonomy to be active participants in the decision-making process. If their jobs can’t help them to feel fulfilled in their personal lives, then you are swimming upstream.
For Angle 33, this translates to a few simple approaches. For example, we won’t force our employees to work full-time if they only want to work part-time. In this way, they can fish Montana’s rivers or explore our home as much as they need to—and sure enough, we strike the balance of high productivity and floating happily ahead.
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