5 Leadership Lessons from a Growing Team

leadership lessons

1. If you want to change the world, start by making your bed.  Admiral William H. McRaven gave the 2014 Commencement Speech at University of Texas at Austin and shared this lesson. If you want to be a good leader, you have to start off right. Your day, a meeting, your entire company – all of it starts somewhere and to be successful, I’ve found the way you start is really important. You can always escalate to something else, but if you don’t start slow/smart/politely, you’ve shot yourself in the foot before you even get going.

2. Treat everyone like adults. Social Media Explorer wrote a great article earlier this summer about the way they abolished their vacation policy.The whole premise is something I believe in, but what really stood out to me in this article is the point about treating people like adults. SME’s Nichole Kelly explains that it doesn’t pay to hire a bunch of adults, then treat them like children by limiting freedom and requiring permission for things. If you build your team with people you can trust to make adult-like decisions, you can stop worrying about babysitting them and spend your time helping them grow.

3. Talk to people. No good links for this one, just good ol’ common sense. When you stop talking to people on your team, you lose major perspective about what’s going on. Rather than blindly assuming everyone is happy or silently wondering why people aren’t doing what you want, it’s best to actually speak with those people regularly and really understand what’s happening. It just all works better when people know they can discuss any challenges at any time.

4. Lead with love. Sean Abbas, founder of Threads spoke to everyone at Mudd during a Gung Ho session. He talked about his work history and how that led to the development of his employee review tool. He made a great point about leading with love and how much more successful that is than leading with fear. When people work because they love you or your mission, you get a lot further than when they work because they’re afraid of consequences. Leading with love breeds freedom and progressive thought; leading with fear encourages blind obedience and high turnover.

5. Really listen, then ask questions. Listening is hard. Really listening is really hard. It takes a lot of effort to truly hear, absorb and understand what people are saying, especially if they’re not saying it directly. It’s easy to hear a complaint or problem and run away with your “solution.” To be a good leader, though, you have to listen to what people are really saying, then ask questions (and really listen to the answer) to learn more. I’ve found this is true for both fixing and learning conversations. You can’t improve someone else’s situation without understanding it, and you can’t grow yourself without help from other people.

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