I often compare being a mom to being a leader in a business, it is eerily similar and conceptually the same. As a parent and as a leader you exist to guide, grow, love, recognize, point out and communicate that what is important for the growth of your child or teammate. You must do it empathetically but firmly, you must find the balance between being an exceptional listener and a wise contributor and you must always keep your purpose in the line of sight and well communicated.
SMALL BUSINESS MYTH BUSTERS:
- Work-Life Balance. It doesn’t exist – especially for an empathetic leader. This is what you signed up for. Can there be periods of less stress and craziness? YES, Can there be periods of hair pulling madness? YES – But it is compared to the balance of a ballerina in pointe shoes – for her to seem like she is a beautiful swan she must be balancing her feet on the pointe shoes and shifting her weight constantly to strike a PERCEIVED balance but if she stands on her to toes at once and stays there she will fall. It is the same for work-life balance: we live in a continuous momentum of balancing moments and it is in this dance where we can find a PERCEIVED fleeting moment of tranquility. Don’t get too comfortable because it will be just for a second.
- Strengthen Weaknesses. I am not a researcher or a scientist (which is a good thing for the benefit of humanity) but I am almost 100% certain that people’s weaknesses can’t be turned into their greatest strengths over time. I think that weaknesses can be worked on and “bettered” if they are necessary for the job, but then you might be losing the opportunity to deepen your teammates’ strengths which in turn would elevate the level of work and happiness at work helping with company morale, strong teams, and overall production. When you think of building teams, evaluate what everyone’s strengths and weaknesses are and build teams that play on everyone’s strengths filling the “weakness holes” with someone else’s superpower.
- Always Running Smoothly. The other day at a business peer group I’m in, someone said that they wanted to grow as a leader so that their business would forever run smoothly. I laughed out loud (I recognize that was rude but it was accidental), and immediately went into “judgy mcjudgy” mode thinking: in what planet do you live on?
I do think though we always have this Utopian dream of wanting everything to always run smoothly and we work relentlessly and unforgivingly towards this idea of IF only I could build these perfect teams where everyone loved each other, worked well together and communicated perfectly we would be golden. But the reality is that we are human and that UTOPIAN team doesn’t exist and we have to give ourselves and others the grace of knowing that we are flawed, as all humans are. We have to recognize that we will never reach perfection and that all we can work on indefinitely is to be the best version of ourselves we can be and show up every day as the leader we aspire to be. This won’t necessarily make things run smoothly but it will help weather the storms.
- Hiring – I will preface this by saying my highest employee count was 20 employees so we are small and I suck at interviewing. I have taken a million courses and read a million books including the 15,000-page version of Top Grading and nothing helps. These are a few reasons why:
- You can’t see or measure grit in an interview.
- You can’t discern if they have fire in their belly to move the vision forward in an interview.
- In my case, it is hard for me to clearly see the immediate need versus the potential success of candidates.
So what does this mean? Nothing. It means that when we hire, both the new employee and the team, we are still seeing if we are a good fit for each other. We are both testing the waters to measure grit, fire in their belly and future potential, it means that we are interviewing each other for a long time after the hiring is done to determine if the fit is right. And that is ok.
The hiring myth of having a process that gets it right the first time is one that needs to be dispelled because it is disheartening for small organizations, like mine when we get it equally right and wrong.
- It’s You, It’s Me – I have personally worked on myself for over 20 years. I have been to week-long retreats, conferences, and gatherings to work on slowly becoming a better human, mom, wife, friend, and leader – and the number one thing that is said is to be self – aware. As leaders, we tend to go either the path of: “It’s someone else’s fault” or the path of: “What did I do?” – And I’m not sure it’s that clear cut. I truly think that it is in the middle somewhere. We can definitely always find the fault in others or always find great ways to blame ourselves but neither is completely true. So how do you take a situation and try to objectively assess it without placing blame and actively create an outcome that builds on self-awareness instead of self-indulgence or self-pity? (PS – I’m still working on this daily because of both self-pity and self-indulgence stroke my ego).
Here are a few strategies I have tried:
- Ask yourself and your team is there ANYTHING I could have done better or differently that could have affected the outcome? Be as sincere as possible. Sometimes there really is nothing that could have done differently.
- If leaders and teams do find things that could have been done differently – run that hypothetical situation together and try to place yourselves in the shoes of the client. Building empathy and self-awareness is an amazing tool. Now that everyone has seen how that may have made someone feel you can apply it to the process.
In my experience, it’s never about who did it but always about what can we do about it.
Do you have any other small business myth busters you would like to explore?Back to blog