Diversity in the workplace extends beyond gender, race, and nationality. It also includes a variety of thoughts and ideas from team members. By Alesia Visconti
As the captain of your ship, you want everyone rowing in the same direction, so your vessel continually moves forward and doesn’t get caught up in the weeds.
This doesn’t mean you put together a team whose members all think as you do. Diversity in the workplace extends beyond gender, race, and nationality. It also includes a variety of thoughts. None of us need a plethora of people around us who think as we do: we already know how WE think. We want – and need – to hear other viewpoints and ideas. It’s imperative to have team members who challenge you, and who feel safe enough to do so. That takes mutual trust. It also takes not being ego-vested. To quote Simon Sinek, “The role of a leader is not to come up with all the great ideas. The role of a leader is to create an environment in which great ideas can happen.”
One way to keep people empowered is to delete work off your plate and onto theirs. Sound crazy? Let’s unpack it in more detail.
Let go and delegate
Many entrepreneurs have trouble letting go of tasks and delegating them to others. They think “no one will do it as well” or “I can do it faster.” Worse is when they rationalize it’s cheaper to do it themselves instead of paying someone else – a sure recipe for stinting scalability.
Angela Olea, CEO of Assisted Living Locators, explains, “I learned a painful lesson in the early years, trying to do it all and burning the candle at both ends. It was not sustainable, and I had to realize that growing a successful business is a marathon, not a sprint. My advice is to plan your growth early on and hire immediately. Build a team brick-by-brick and develop their competencies and confidence. Most importantly, while it may seem difficult, you must delegate to elevate your impact and leadership!”
Stay focused on goals
NOT giving others tasks and responsibilities, insults them: it implies you don’t think they can do a good job. That’s obviously not true, or you would not have hired them. So, be honest with yourself and understand it’s more about your struggle to let go than it is about their ability.
Successful entrepreneurs understand this. Joe Malmuth, VP of Franchise Sales for My Eyelab, agrees: “In order for the whole team to succeed, I need to be free to work ‘on’ the business and not ‘in’ the business. I give my team clearly defined goals and boundaries and trust them to execute. This allows me to focus on new growth opportunities and to be more strategic within our industry.”
Set an example
Remember that your team is always watching you, even when you think they aren’t. Actions indeed speak louder than words. It’s essential to set high standards and hold every team member accountable – including yourself. To empower your team, it’s necessary to align values and vision at every level consistently.
“You make money in life with your head, not your hands,” says CEO Scott Sharkey of Sharkey’s Cuts for Kids. “Surround yourself in business, and in life, with people who bring you up each day and offer you rewards that you cannot bring on your own. It brings life and business together and allows you to fit your business plan into your life plan. Not the other way around.”
Communication is paramount. It’s easy to be a leader when everything is going smoothly. What defines a leader is when the seas get rough. How do they steer the ship through the white-water rapids and back to smooth waters? One way is to invite communication and get ahead of problems. One question I continually ask my team is: “What’s harder than it should be?” This may sound like opening Pandora’s Box, but it fosters ideas.
In this way, people contribute, and everyone understands they take part in what initiatives get implemented. They see they have input on where the company is going. It makes for a very, very happy team. And that makes for a fun boat ride indeed!
– Alesia Visconti
Alesia Visconti, CFC is the CEO/Publisher of Franchise Dictionary Magazine and the CEO of FranServe Inc, the world’s largest franchise consulting and expansion organization. She has 20 years of experience as a C-level executive driving organizational development and taking companies to the next level. An author, professional speaker, and entrepreneur; her motto in life is “Work hard, play hard, help others, repeat.” As a self-proclaimed nerd, Alesia loves all things “superhero.”